Sunday, April 9, 2017

Searching Every Which Way

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, or NASA, is recruiting everyday folks to help them scan images taken by its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer Mission. The idea is to examine the images and distinguish actual objects from photographic artifacts or glitches in the images. Searchers are told they may find a stellar object closer to the Sun than Proxima Centauri or the hypothesized Planet 9.

In fact, the web-page's headline says, "Help scan the realm beyond Neptune for brown dwarfs and planet 9." Brown dwarfs are objects bigger than Jupiter but smaller than the sun that never really gained enough mass to ignite like a star would. They don't fuse hydrogen but may fuse some other elements in order to radiate in the infrared spectrum. Since they don't shine like stars, one could be closer than Proxima, a little under four light-years away.

So this is a pretty cool deal, but it's being falsely advertised. We've got a planet 9 and it's called Pluto, no matter what the Greedo-shot-first dopes at the International Astronomical Union say.

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