Niku and Nibiru

While it is doubtful that Niku, the ‘trans-Neptunian object’ that is getting all the attention by astronomers right now is the fabled Nibiru, it does show that our solar system is a whole lot weirder than standard astronomy likes to claim.

I hope everyone has buckled their seatbelts because the outer solar system just got a lot weirder. – Belfast astronomer Michele Bannister

Niku, named after the Chinese word for rebellious, orbits our sun in the opposite direction of all the other known objects and at an extreme angle, out of the plane of the other bodies. Estimates have Niku at less than 150 miles in diameter, making it considerably smaller that even Ceres at about 600 miles in diameter.

It does not appear that Niku is directly related to the Planet Nine discovery, which suggests that there is an object or objects out past the Kuiper belt that has 10 times the mass of Earth.
Planet Nine

Giant Asteroid To Come Really Close On Tuesday

This would be bad

YIKES!

Asteroid 2005 YU55 will pass closer to the Earth than the orbit of the Moon on November 8th, 2011. At over 1300 feet in length, this one would cause some serious damage if it struck the Earth. This is the nearest pass of a know space rock since 1976 and there won’t be another (fingers crossed) until 2028.

2005 YU55 will be able to be seen by a telescope with an aperture of 6 inches or larger, so plenty of data will be collected as it passes.

Of course we can’t mention near earth collisions with giant rocks with out mentioning some 2012 doomsday chatter.

Large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) Blasting In The Direction Of Earth

CME On Its Way To Earth

The joint NASA/ESA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), sitting at the L1 point between the Earth and the sun, has spotted a large coronal mass ejection (CME) blasting in the direction of Earth.

While not an unusually massive eruption, the blast was at the same time as another phenomenon on the sun, called a ‘filament’, occurred, not far from the location CME.

The combination of these events led to a huge magnetic bubble of plasma being blasted into space from the sun. As the eruption was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the CME is heading right for Earth and can expected to arrival on August 3rd, 2010.

While news.discovery.com doesn’t want you to panic, I find this whole thing a bit unnerving.

The choppy video below shows the C3-class solar flare originating from sunspot 1092 on the surface of the Sun on August 1, 2010.

Starfish Prime – Nukes In Space – July 9, 1962

It was the height of the cold war and blowing up stuff was what we did.

This time, it was a nuke shot into space to explode in the Van Allen radiation belt.

The Van Allen belts had only been identified several years before and the mission Starfish Prime was launched, sending a hydrogen bomb into space on July 9, 1962.

From a recent NPR story

The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth’s atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb’s radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might “alter” the natural shape of the belts.


The explosion resulted in a amazing display of colors in the sky that could be seen across the Pacific Ocean, from Hawaii to New Zealand. Reports of electrical blackouts and strange electrical malfunctions (lights blowing out and garage doors opening and closing) were the only known side effects, except the light show in the sky.

Comet, Asteroid, Or Something Else

Being called a mystery object, astronomers have found something that looks like a comet, but lives in the asteroid belt about 250 million miles from Earth.

The strange object was discovered on January 6 by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) sky survey, which is funded by the United States Air Force and NASA and located in New Mexico.

Generally, comets follow elliptical orbits that get close in to the sun and grow long gaseous and dusty tails as ices sublimate off their solid cores. Asteroids are mostly in more circular orbits and with a high density of them living between the orbits of the planets Mars and Jupiter in the asteroid belt.

Several other comet/asteroid hybrids have been reported over the years, but are still not completely understood by astronomers.

This previously unknown object may be on a high speed collision course with another object in the belt. Astronomers can see debris from previous impacts, but have never seen a collision as it happens.

Is this a new object to the belt? With Aphophis – Asteroid 2004 MN4 recently in the news, the mystery object that passed through Saturn’s F ring and the increased fireball activity in the sky, one might wonder whats coming our way.