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What is the Future of Astronomy?

There are still more things to discover in the field of astronomy. It is a growing science which will continue to produce discoveries in the coming decades, thanks to the growing technology that allows us to construct larger and better telescopes and analyze larger data sets. New topics for research are also emerging, which leads us to better understanding of our universe.
© Greenstein, J. L. (1973). The Future of Astronomy. Journal of College Science Teaching, 3(2), 102-106.

There are still more things to discover in the field of astronomy. It is a growing science which will continue to produce discoveries in the coming decades, thanks to the growing technology that allows us to construct larger and better telescopes and analyze larger data sets. New topics for research are also emerging, which leads us to better understanding of our universe.

Neutrinos

Neutrinos, as their name suggests, are neutral particles. This means that they interact with matter very rarely. They are also much smaller than a nucleus of an atom and they have almost no mass and no electric charge. Although they are abundant in the universe since they are born from exploding astrophysical events in space, they are very difficult to observe. It is important that they are studied not just because they are abundant in the universe, but because they are the key for understanding processes such as solar radiation, and how nature favored matter over antimatter.

Exobiology and Formation of Life

Many researches have suggested the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and this is the focus of exobiology, the study of the origins and evolution of life in the universe. The hunt for extraterrestrial civilizations is still ongoing, but we are only limited to our current technology to decipher and receive the signals emitted by various sources. However, many scientists believe that we now have the capability to create theories, observations, and calculations to analyze spectra of signals to deduce whether they can be considered as “civilized” noise or not. In addition, there are still mysteries on how life begins on planets and becomes intelligent. Molecules needed for sustaining life are suggested to be produced by clouds of dust that were present during the formation of the Solar System. Questions such as what are the initial conditions to produce these dust clouds are yet to be answered in the future.

A recent paper by Greaves et al. (2020) in Nature showed a detection of phosphine on Venus, a gas that is known to be only produced by bacteria, indicating a possibility of life outside Earth. However, upon re-analysis of the data, more recent researches found out that this may not be the case. The signals reported to be coming from phosphine may have come from sulfur dioxide, a gas that is common in the atmosphere of Venus. Even though the detection of life outside Earth is still yet to be discovered, what is astounding here is the fact that many scientists have worked together efficiently and quickly to clarify the original findings, proving that we now have the capability to study exobiology in more detail.

Gravitational Waves

In September 2015, gravitational waves (GW) were first detected by the two Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors located in Livingston, Louisiana and Richland, Washington. It caused a great commotion in the field of astronomy because Einstein had theorized before the possibility of these waves arising as a totally different type of radiation.

© Greenstein, J. L. (1973). The Future of Astronomy. Journal of College Science Teaching, 3(2), 102-106.
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Mysteries Of The Universe

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