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Astronomers using the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have found that the Milky Way is surrounded by a halo of hot gas.The uncertainty of science: Astronomers using the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have found that the Milky Way is surrounded by a halo of hot gas.

The uncertainty of science: Astronomers using the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have found that the Milky Way is surrounded by a halo of hot gas.

This is the key quote:

The estimated mass of the halo is comparable to the mass of all the stars in the galaxy. If the size and mass of this gas halo is confirmed, it also could be an explanation for what is known as the “missing baryon” problem for the galaxy.

“Missing baryon” is another way to say “dark matter.” In other words, this discovery might prove that it isn’t necessary to invent exotic unknown particles of physics, such as the Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs) to explain the missing matter. The missing matter might simply be this hot gas, previously undetected.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • jwing

    Dark Matter: What you get when federally funded research physicists justify their busy-work. It’s kinda like climate scientists making claims to justify their gravy train of grant money.

  • Patrick

    I have NEVER believed in dark matter or dark energy.

    They both have always seemed like excuses for just not knowing.

    But since this seems to be around our galaxy I wonder if its around most others as well?
    And if it is, I wonder if its around the whole of the known universe also. With a universes amount of matter as gas around the whole known universe it could explain the supposed increase in the speed of expansion. It might just be that the known matter is finally catching up to and being influenced by this invisible matter.

    This could also make the theory of a closed universe more plausible. The idea of an ever expanding universe never sat well with me.

  • jwing

    When physicists can seriously propose an anti-sub atomic particle for every physically known sub atomic particle, and not be laughed out of the universities, it sheds light on just how sad the state of true scientific endeavor has become. Why not propose anti-universes and anti-anti matter or bright matter to contrast with dark matter? Just create a duality for everything and suddenly you are in Alice’s Wonderland or a Monty Python skit, doesn’t it? Dark matter…heh!

  • jwing

    Patrick…you stated something that interested me when you wrote, “I have NEVER believed in dark matter or dark energy”. I know just what you meant but do notice the wording that you chose. You wrote that you never “believed” in dark matter as if by faith. I assume what you meant to say, but isn’t it interestng how easily our language has been compromised. I think you’d agree that a major problem with science today is that it is highly political bordering on ideological, and agenda and money driven as opposed to using empiricism and the scientific method.

  • Patrick

    It has nothing to do with any faith I have.

    But it has everything to do with the descriptions of it that have been postulated over the last ten years.

    One says it can’t be seen or touched but it has anti-gravity properties.
    The other says it has normal gravity.
    Some say its just normal matter that can’t be detected by any known method. And seems to be transparent.
    Somehow this magic particle has NEVER been found on Earth. But has the ability to move galaxy’s in strange ways. Pushing some and pulling others.

    The doubling of known matter in the universe would toss the theory that anti-matter destroyed most of the available normal matter during the great expansion into a new spin.

    And you would think that with these great new gravity abilities we would have found evidence of ‘dark matter’ black holes whipping out ‘dark energy’.

    The ones with faith seem to be the ones who believe in the ‘dark’ stuff. Can’t see it, can’t touch it, can’t detect and prove its influence on anything else but yet these scientists seem to ‘believe’ in it.
    Its like magic, or miracles.

  • Patrick,

    Your comment here suggests to me that you are mixing dark matter and dark energy together as if they are the same scientific mystery. They are decidedly not the same problem.

    Dark matter refers to the fact that astronomers have found that the objects in the outer regions of galaxies are always orbiting at too great a speed. It is as if in our solar system the outer planets orbited the Sun at a higher velocity than the inner planets. The simple explanation is that there is an unseen halo or cloud of mass surrounding the galaxies that influences the speed in which objects move. That unseen halo could be made up of an exotic particle of physics. It could just as easily be made up of matter that astronomers have not yet identified, such as the gas cloud they have just found.

    Dark energy refers to a wholly different problem, that the universe on vast scales appears to be expanding at an accelerating rate. In this case, scientists have no idea what causes this. And there is also significant questions about the data that they do have. They gave this mystery the name “dark energy” because they had to come up with something.

  • So why postulate dark energy when a non constant c would also explain the expansion?

  • In the case of dark energy, which has nothing to do with dark matter and the gas halo discovery by Chandra, it is possible that the acceleration of the expansion rate of the universe can be explained by a modification of gravity on large scales. In fact, there is a whole subgroup of cosmologists who are researching this theoretical idea, which they call MOND (Modified Newtonian Dynamics).

    Unfortunately, they have not yet been able to come up with a set of equations that satisfy all the facts and that are convincing to a majority of astronomers. They might be right, but they haven’t gotten there yet.

    Most astronomers prefer the idea of some form of dark energy to explain the acceleration of the universe’s expansion rate, but the good astronomers are likely as skeptical of that as they are of MOND. There just isn’t enough data yet to really answer the question.

  • Patrick

    I don’t have the two darks mixed up in my mind, though I did explain things oddly. I am not the most educated of people.

    But to me the two are linked the same as all other mater and energy are linked together.

    To explain the increasing expansion rate couldn’t it just be a case of unknown matter (like our galaxy’s newly discovered gas cloud)just outside the greater universe influencing the outer areas? Something normal instead if Dark energy. There you have it. Dark matter(unknown matter) doing the job of dark energy.

    The idea of some exotic, mystery, unknown matter or energy that ONLY exists in outer space and has NEVER been found on Earth naturally or in a lab is a little far fetched.

  • The difference between the “two darks,” as you cleverly refer to them, is one of scale. The mystery of dark matter involves the motions of stars within galaxies, distances under several hundred thousand light years. In this case your suggestion that some as yet undiscovered material might account for it is quite reasonable. This is why I highlighted the discovery of the halo of hot gas around the Milky Way. It suggests that the answer to dark matter might be quite simple.

    Dark energy however involves the expansion rate of the entire universe, of space itself, and involves a scale covering literally many billions of light years. Moreover, adding matter here doesn’t work, as more matter should slow the expansion rate, not cause it to speed up. Yet, that is what astronomers think they have found: As they study the universe at greater scales, they find the expansion rate seems to be accelerating, which is entirely counter to everything they had expected to find. At the moment they have no idea what causes this acceleration, and good astronomers will even admit that the data itself is somewhat sketchy and might not hold up with better observations.

  • jwing

    I loved the way you explained that Robert. As long as everything is on the table and all conjectures are considered, then good science happens whatever the eventual outcome. As opposed to much science today in which “the science is settled” due to a consensus of experts. The simple fact is: we don’t know. There, I said it. We just don’t know so much about the universe and as long as we can continue to question, we will continue to advance in science. Once we think we know it all…we know less.

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