(ORDO NEWS) — A new analysis of the Hubble data has confirmed this: there is too much light in space around the solar system.
Of course, not much extra light. Just a subtle, ghostly glow, a slight excess that cannot be accounted for in the census of all light-emitting objects.
All the stars and galaxies surrounding the solar system, and the zodiacal light, also known as dust on the plane of the solar system, none of which can explain what astronomers now call “ghost light.”
After analyzing 200,000 Hubble images and making thousands of measurements, a project called SKYSURF launched an international collaboration. sure that the excess of light is real.
And besides, they can’t explain it. There are options, but none of them have been confirmed. In any case, not yet.
The biggest possibility? A dusty component of the solar system that we haven’t directly detected yet: tiny particles of dust and ice from a population of comets traveling inward from dark corners of the solar system, reflecting sunlight and creating a diffuse global glow. span>
This source should be slightly closer to us than the extra light detected by the New Horizons space probe , which detected an excess of optical light in space beyond Pluto, outside the solar system.
“If our analysis is correct, there is another component of dust between us and the distance at which New Horizons measured.
This means that this is some kind of extra light coming from inside our solar system,” says Arizona State University astronomer Tim Carlton.
“Because our residual light measurement is higher than that of New Horizons, W, we think it is a local phenomenon occurring close to the solar system. This may be a new element of the content of the solar system, which has been hypothesized, but not quantified until now.
There are a lot of really bright things floating around in the universe: planets, stars, galaxies, even gas and dust. And in general, bright things are what we want to look at. and intergalactic space is not an easy task.
However, when we look, we sometimes find that everything is not so. as we expect.
For example, something we can’t explain at the galactic center produces span>high energy light . Voyager detected a hydrogen-related brightness excess at the edge of the Solar System . There is a detection of New Horizons. st appear strangely glowing.
An illustration of a hypothetical comet dust cloud that could produce the glow. (NASA, ESA, Andy James/STScI)
The aim of SKYSURF was to fully characterize the brightness of the sky. span>
“More than 95 percent of the photons in the Hubble archive images come from distances less than 3 billion miles from Earth.
In the early days, most Hubble users discarded these photons from the sky, as they are interested in faint discrete objects in Hubble images, such as stars and galaxies,” says Arizona State University astronomer and Hubble veteran Rogier Windhorst.
“But these celestial photons contain important information that can be gleaned from Hubble’s unique ability to measure faint brightness levels with high accuracy over three decades of its life.”
In three separate papers, the researchers combed the Hubble arch ive for signs of faint galaxies we may have missed and quantified the light that should be emitted by objects known to glow.
A team searching for hidden galaxies determined that not enough galaxies were missed to explain the extra light.
The resulting excess was, according to scientists, equivalent to the constant glow emitted by 10 fireflies across the sky.
This may not sound like much, but it’s enough to know that we’re missing something. And this is important. Scientists are increasingly finding ways to see light between stars. If there is a local excess, we need to be aware of it, as it can skew our understanding of more distant ghostly auroras.
And, of course, this can affect our understanding of the solar system and how it works.
“When we look at the night sky, we can learn a lot about the Earth’s atmosphere. Hubble is in space,” says astronomer Rosalia O’Brien of Arizona State University.
“When we look at this night sky, we can learn a lot about what is happening in our galaxy, our solar system and on a large scale, as well as throughout the universe.”
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