Transient Lunar Phenomena
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WHAT ARE TRANSIENT LUNAR PHENOMENA?
For centuries, people have reported seeing flashing lights on the moon. They come in different colors, all emanating from a specific area of the moon. The activity is intermittent. An amber colored light may suddenly appear and then disappear just seconds later.
Once telescopes were invented in 1608, astronomers became even more fascinated with the intermittent flashing lights.
The majority of this activity is around Aristarchus, a crater almost the size of the Grand Canyon.
What is this translunar phenomenon, more commonly known as transient lunar phenomenon? Could extraterrestrial life have anything to do with it?
In 1966, a transient lunar phenomena report was compiled for NASA by four of the top scientists and astronomers of the time. Barbara Middlehurst, a well-known astronomer, worked with her team member, Patrick Craig, and others. They prepared a detailed chronology of lunar events that occurred from June 1950 to October 1967. The report was published in 1968, prior to the first moon landing.
Middlehurst provided detailed documentation on sightings of moving objects, flashing lights and many other odd events on the lunar surface. About 60 percent of the activity was around Aristarchus or based on activity coming from the crater itself. Some examples of her entries include the following:
- October 25, 1966: “Large bright area obscuring half of crater wall. It was not present on Oct. 24″
- April 22, 1967: “Aristarchus so bright that it could be seen by the naked eye”
- August 13, 1967: “Glow in interior in crater”
Naturally, the crater was an area of interest once manned missions to the moon began. Many audio tapes and photos of the moon missions, particularly the most important ones from Apollo 11, are mysteriously missing.
One copy of a debriefing log taken after the astronauts had returned from their first landing on the moon reveals a conversation with astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Michael Collins and an unknown speaker. They discussed that one request had been for them to look at the crater Aristarchus to see if they “could see any glow or evidence of observations that had been made by people on the ground.”
Aldrin concluded that the lights around and emanating from Aristarchus were brighter “than anything else we could see in either direction.” They also mentioned that the photos taken during the trip could shed light on what they had seen. But, the photos are either missing or of such poor quality it is difficult to use them in a meaningful way.
In 1994, a joint task force between NASA and the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization sent a probe to the moon as part of their Clementine Project. The probe had several tasks, one of which was to fly over the Aristarchus Crater and take photos. Astronomers who viewed the photos reported seeing a clearly visible blue dome-shaped structure when the Aristarchus “lights are on.”
Even though the photos are in low resolution and highly pixelated, astronomers believe there is a dome structure in the Aristarchus Crater. One photo, dated September 7, 2007, shows an “electric blue” color emanating from the crater with “dome like structures” in the crater itself.
There is a strong indication that the dome-shaped structure is a fusion reactor. A former NASA manager of the photo department claims that the government has evidence of ancient alien cities on the moon. These were discovered mostly during the Apollo program. If there is evidence of ancient cities, could the activity around the Aristarchus Crater indicate current extraterrestrial life?
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?