The ‘ghost glow’ in the Solar System could be a ‘new addition’ to our understanding of its structure
‘Ghostly glow’ in solar system could be ‘new addition’ to our understanding of its structure – but source remains a mystery
- NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has detected an aurora around the Solar System
- Scientists are baffled by this glow, which is equivalent to 10 fireflies
- The team theorizes that it could be dust from comets that fall into the solar system
A mysterious “ghost glow” equivalent to 10 fireflies has been detected around ours solar system this continues even when other light sources such as stars and planets are subtracted.
The discovery was made when astronomers set out to see just how dark space could be, which they did by sifting through 200,000 images taken by NASAThe Hubble Space Telescope and elimination of the expected glow – but a small excess of light prevails.
Scientists can’t be sure where the light is coming from, but they have guesses at the source is unknown so far a sphere composed of comet dust that reflects sunlight.
If confirmed, the researchers said this dusty envelope would be a new addition to the known architecture of the solar system.
Scientists discovered ‘ghostly glow’ around our solar system while analyzing images taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope
This discovery builds on research conducted in 2021, when another group of astronomers used data from NASA’s New Horizons interplanetary space probe to measure the sky background.
New Horizon also detected an aurora around the solar system, but the probe was more than four billion miles from the sun, and what caused it remains a mystery to this day.
Numerous theories range from the decay of dark matter to the vast invisible population of distant galaxies.
Tim Carleton of Arizona State University (ASU) said in a statement: “If our analysis is correct, there is another dust component between us and the distance where New Horizons made the measurements.
The team measured the darkness of the sky in which to extract the zodiacal light, which is the glow emitted by stars and planets
“That means it’s some extra light coming from inside our solar system.”
Carlton went on to explain that since the light appears faint in the New Horizons data due to distance, the glow must be coming from the boundaries of the solar system.
“It may be a new element in the solar system that has been hypothesized but not quantified until now,” he said.
This prompted recent work to use Hubble, which is about 340 miles above Earth’s surface.
Veteran Hubble astronomer Roger Windhorst, also of ASU, said in a statement: “More than 95 percent of the photons in images from the Hubble archive come from distances less than 3 billion miles from Earth.
“Since the earliest days of Hubble, most Hubble users have discarded these sky photons because they are interested in the faint individual objects in Hubble images, such as stars and galaxies.
Hubble (pictured) captured the aurora about 340 miles above Earth’s surface. Astronomers who analyzed the images suggest that the glow may come from a dust sphere made up of comets
“But these celestial photons contain important information that can be extracted thanks to Hubble’s unique ability to measure faint brightness levels with high precision over its three decades of life.”
Hubble, a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency, has been observing the universe for more than three decades.
He has made more than 1.5 million observations of the universe and over 18,000 scientific papers have been published based on his data.
The telescope orbits Earth at about 17,000 miles per hour in a low-Earth orbit about 340 miles above sea level, slightly higher than the International Space Station.
Launched in April 1990 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Hubble is showing more and more signs of aging despite a series of repairs and updates by astronauts in space during NASA’s shuttle era.
The telescope is named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble, who was born in Missouri in 1889 and discovered that the universe is expanding, and the rate at which it is expanding.