72 New Galaxies Discovered in Hubble Ultra Deep Field
Back in 2004, the Hubble telescope peered into a dark part of the universe in the Fornax constellation just below Orion. After staring at this dark patch of space for nearly two weeks, it delivered an amazing view of the cosmos, packed with galaxies, stars, and planets. Now, astronomers have pointed a spectroscopic telescope at that same point in space resulting in 72 new galaxies discovered, increasing our chance of finding extraterrestrial life.
A Number of New Galaxies Discovered
Originally obtained in the early 2000s, Hubble’s images of a vast array of galaxies was a profound discovery that became known as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field or HUDF. With this data, scientists were able to take a step back in time, much closer to the beginning of the universe when galaxies were originally formed.
Within the HUDF, scientists captured light from 1600 new galaxies, some of which were nearly 13 billion years old.
Some of the galaxies seen in this deep field were different than the typical spiral-armed galaxies we’re accustomed to seeing, like the Milky Way. These galaxies were shaped like bracelet links and toothpicks at a time when the universe was starting to calm down from its initially chaotic phase.
Now, astronomers from the European Space Organization (ESO) at Chile’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) have applied a technology known as spectroscopy to the HUDF, in order to see galaxies that are only visible in certain ultraviolet light, known as Lyman-alpha light. Prior to employing spectroscopy, these galaxies were invisible to the Hubble telescope, even though they were perfectly within its frame.
A spectroscopic telescope splits up the light it takes in into an array of individual colors. This allows scientists to glean details about galaxies and stars, such as their distance, age, and the elements they’re composed of. This discovery by the VLT was the most in-depth spectroscopic analysis yet.
The Potential for Finding Life
The sheer vastness of the universe is practically incomprehensible except when described in what are essentially abstract numbers. The billions of galaxies, containing billions of stars, and subsequently trillions of planets aren’t easy for us to fathom.
Despite the difficulty in wrapping our heads around this quantity, one can at least revel in the fact that we’ve reached the point of being aware of the magnitude of our universe. And the data also provides for a greater opportunity that extraterrestrial life is likely to exist out there.
With the new discovery of 72 previously unknown galaxies, we’re upping that probability significantly. If we consider the estimate that, within the Milky Way alone, there are anywhere between 100 million to 400 million stars, with an average of 8 planets orbiting at a reasonable distance (if we use our solar system), then there are anywhere from 800 billion – 3.2 trillion planets in our galaxy alone.
Take that number and apply it to these 72 new galaxies discovered and there are anywhere from 57 – 230 trillion or more potential planets. This makes the chance that we’re alone in this universe sound pretty unlikely. The question is whether we’ll ever make contact.
In addition to furthering our search for extraterrestrial life, the ESO has employed Chile’s VLT to study dark matter, the enigmatic force that perpetuates the expansion of the universe. This dark matter also makes up about 75 percent of the matter in the universe, theoretically. Scientists have debated about what dark matter could be, classifying it into two types, WIMPs and MACHOs – so clever with their acronyms.
WIMPs are weakly interacting, massive particles, while MACHOs are massive, astrophysical, compact halo objects. WIMPs are more elusive and different from matter as we know it, acting through electromagnetic forces. MACHOs are matter like dead or dying stars, black holes, and neutron stars. These are more familiar matters that aren’t as luminous as other cosmic phenomena of their ilk, therefore they could be nearly invisible to us.
The VLT has imaged these MACHOs in action and believes they are the culprit behind the enigma of dark matter. Sometimes this dark matter is so strong that it can warp the fabric of space-time itself as seen in a recent Hubble picture of a galaxy cluster known as Abell 2537.
What other discoveries might this novel spectroscopic technology provide for us?
The Mystery of Dark Matter
The Alternative 3-Secret Space Program Connection
In 1977, a British television program titled Science Report: Alternative 3, part of an Anglia TV documentary series, aired and planted the seed of fear about an alien invasion in society at large. The program focuses on the disappearances of prominent scientists, engineers, and astronomers. The speculation is that the Earth is collapsing and will soon be unable to support human life, so these people have been taken by several governments acting together in an intergovernmental Secret Space Program (SSP) with the goal of developing colonies on other planets, using the moon as a way-station.
If you ever have a chance to view the program, it is so convincing that you will want to volunteer for the SSP, pack up your family, and head for Mars. However, there is only one known copy: it is in the possession of Alternative 3’s director. It is thought to be fading and grainy due to the passage of time. All other copies of the program were destroyed as were all contracts and any paperwork referencing the show as if the program never existed.
Although the TV program aired in June of 1977, the producers claimed it was originally intended to air on April Fool’s Day. Workers in the industry were striking, so the air date was postponed. When it did air, the reaction of viewers was reminiscent of the 1938 radio broadcast by Orson Wells of “The War of the Worlds,” which created civil unrest and havoc. The broadcast was meant to be a joke, but thousands of people in the U.S. thought the Earth was being invaded by Martians. They hit the streets in panic, not knowing what to do next or how to escape.
The program was so disturbing it was only shown once in England and once in Australia. The U.S. refused to air the program. It was never shown anywhere again. Even though the directors and producers of Alternative 3 were adamant that it was fiction, questions still abound. Is there some truth to the Alternative 3 theory?
Are there three alternatives for Earth inhabitants in case there is a catastrophic event that threatens the habitability of the planet? Thousands of people disappear every year, never to be heard from again. Could these people have been abducted to develop a Breakaway Civilization on the moon or another planet, like Mars?
Fact or Fiction?
Immediately after it aired, the producers of the program announced it had been fiction. The slot where Alternative 3 aired was one that routinely ran documentary episodes. The title of the series was Science Reports and Alternative 3 was the title of just one segment; it was the last program of the season of the Science Reports.
The program was created by reputable reporters and researchers who were well respected for their documentaries. Why would they risk their reputation by airing such a hoax? Was it really a hoax or was it a disguised message to the public about a secret space program?
A book with the same title, Alternative 3, was subsequently written by Leslie Watkins. It presented some of the theories of the alleged hoax as truth. The book and the television program promoted the idea that astronauts had landed on Mars in 1962 in a joint U.S./U.S.S.R. effort and definitively identified intelligent extraterrestrial life. It also promoted the idea that climate change was just one thing that could soon make the Earth uninhabitable.