Earth and Space Science

Binary Stars, Astronomy, Black Holes, and Atoms

Binary Stars

Binary stars are a pair of stars held in orbit around each other by the force of gravity. Most binary stars form at the same time, from the same cloud of gas. However, Some may also have been become locked in each other's gravitational pull after a close encounter. Some binary star pairs are close to the same size. Others, may have one star much larger than the other. Although our sun is not a binary star, around ninety percent of other stars are thought to be binaries.
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Conceptual image of two binary stars.


Astronomy is the study of the universe and the matter it contains. Astronomy began in Mesopotamia around the fifth century. First, astronomy was used purely to tell time. Later, it was used to make star maps and predict the paths of the Sun, Moon, and planets. Wondering what these objects were, made many ancient civilizations create myths and legends about the stars and planets. In modern times, astronomers use probes, advanced computers, and telescopes to help understand the universe.

Astronomy is the study of the universe and the matter it contains.

Ancient Maya — Tools of Astronomy

Video of how early astronomers did their job.

Black Holes

A black hole is a massive star that pulled itself into itself to form the most dense object in the universe. In fact, it is so dense that not even light can escape from it. In a black hole, space and time are distorted. This has led scientists to speculate that a black hole may open a wormhole to another part of the universe. While searching for a black hole, scientists have one issue, since light cannot escape from it they can not see it. The solution for this is to instead look at the effect it has on the space around it. This is how modern scientists find black holes.
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Atoms are the building blocks of all things in the universe. They create everything from iron to water to smoke. Around 370 B.C.E., a Greek philosopher named Democritus proposed that matter was made of atoms. Not many people believed his theory at the time. In 322 B.C.E, another Greek philosopher created another theory to explain matter. He thought that matter was made of of air, earth, fire, and water. He thought different amounts of each would make different things. His theory was widely accepted until the 17th century when Joseph Proust proved that chemical substances react the same if the ratio stays the same. This discovery led to John Dalton realizing that Democritus must have been right about atoms. This realization caused a massive change in what people thought matter was made of.
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