- Hungarian astronomers have proven the presence of two "pseudo satellites" in circulation around the world.
- These dust blasts were first discovered in the 60's, but are so difficult to discover that researchers have discussed their existence since then.
- The results can be used to determine where to put satellites in the future and must be considered when performing interplanetary space missions.
After more than fifty years of stargazing, debate and controversy, scientists have confirmed the existence of two "moons" or "pseudo-satellites" made of dust that circles around the globe. Despite the rapid use of mathematics, they also argue that the location of these dust sheds gives them some unique features.
What are they?
The artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness improved greatly) in the observations.
The Kordylewski clouds are two dust sheds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are located at two of Lagrange points in the ground of the earth. These points are places where the gravity of two objects, such as the earth and the moon or a planet and the sun, corresponds to the centripetal required to track the objects while they are in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the earth and the moon. The clouds rest on what is called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the earth in the three corners.
The clouds are huge and take up the same space in the night sky as twenty moon discs. covers an area of 45,000 miles. They are about 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the moon. They consist entirely of vacuum cleaners that reflect the sun's light so weakly most astronauts who were looking for them could not see them at all.
The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the researchers created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles made up of them can be blown away by sunshine and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like the tails of the comedy. This means that the clouds barely move but change forever.
How did they discover this?
"Pattern of the polarization angle around the sky around the L5 Lagrange point of the Earth-Moon system, measured by imaging polarimetry in the green (550 nm) spectral range at 01:14:15 UT on August 19, 2017. The position of the L5 point is shown with a white point. In this picture, the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight slanting lines are traces of satellites. "
In his study published in the monthly monthly announcements of Royal Astronomical Society, the Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta and Gábor Horváth described how they could find the dust shifts using polarized lenses.
Because the clouds were expected to polarize the light bouncing by them, by configuring telescopes to look for this type of light, the clouds were much easier to detect. What the researchers observed, polarized light in patterns that stretched beyond the telescope's view were in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and excluded other possible sources.
Why do we learn right now?
"The Mosaic pattern of the polarization angle around the L5 point of the soil (white point). The five rectangular windows correspond to the field of view of the image-forming polarimetric telescope with which the polarization patterns of the Kordylewski dust cloud were measured."
The objects, like dust clouds, are very weak and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and received mixed reports in the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as the co-author of the study Judit Slíz-Balogh explained, "The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and although they are as close to the earth as the moon is largely overlooked by astronomers. It is exciting to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo satellites in circulation next to our moon neighbor."
Will this have any impact on space
Lagrange points have been developed as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the James Webb Telescope to put in circulation, as they would require some fuel to stay in place. Knowing a massive dust cloud that can damage sensitive equipment already there can save money and live in the future. While we only know about the clouds in Lagrange score four and five right now, the writer of the study suggests that there may be more on the other points.
While the discovery of a few dust clouds does not seem so impressive, it is the result of a half century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you may never have to worry about these clouds again, there's nothing wrong with looking at the sky with the wonders of the strange and amazing things we can discover.