Thursday, November 11, 2010

Astronomers Catch The Universe Playing Snooker

Snooker photo by Michael Maggs, Wikimedia Commons
UK astronomers from The University of Warwick and the University of Sheffield, claim they have found the universe playing a game of snooker.

The UK astronomers were part of an international team consisting of astronomers from the U.S, Germany, and Chile. Using their British designed astronomical camera ULTRACAM, they noticed something very peculiar about a certain part of the universe.
The part of the universe they claim looks like "snooker" is in the binary star system NN Serpentis, which is 1670 light years away from Earth. It was originally thought that the star system only contained two stars, a red dwarf and a white dwarf, which orbit one another other very closely. However, the UK astronomers analyzed data that showed small gravitational irregularities in the orbits of the stars that led them to believe two giant gas planets also exist there.

Why does it look like a game of snooker?

Professor Tim Marsh from the University of Warwick, explains:
"The two gas giants have different masses but they may actually be roughly the same size as each other, and in fact will also be roughly the same size as the red dwarf star they orbit. If they follow the patterns we see in our own star system of gas giants with a dominant yellow or blue colours, then it's hard to escape the image of this system as being like a giant snooker frame with a red ball, two coloured balls, and dwarf white cue ball."

Albert Einstein once said, "God does not play dice."  Do you know why he doesn't play dice Mr. Einstein? Because he prefers a nice game of snooker!
[University of Warwick]

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