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Ep. 27, Page 65
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Comic 2014 - Ep. 27, Page 65

12th Nov 2015, 6:33 AM in Episode 27 :: Save My Place | Load My Place
Average Rating: 5 (2 votes)

Author Notes:

smbhax 12th Nov 2015, 6:33 AM edit delete
Astronomers using Japan's Subaru telescope have spotted the most distant natural object yet known in our Solar System: catalog item V774104 "is some 500-1,000km across," and about 15.5 billion km from the Sun—about three times the distance of Pluto. "The previously recognised most distant object is the dwarf planet Eris. This body, which has a moon, Dysnomia, moves between 5.7 billion km and 14.6 billion km from the Sun. [...] The big question is whether V774104 sweeps inwards from its present location, like Eris, or outwards, like the objects known as 2012 VP113 and Sedna. These bodies are currently slightly closer in than Eris, but investigations of their orbits show they will reach far deeper into space, out to 66 billion km and 140 billion km, respectively."

But V774104 is still tops in the distance chart for the moment, in any case—although counting natural AND man-made objects, it's only #2: the Voyager 1 probe has reached 20 billion km (and counting)!

Other man-made objects expected to keep going outward include Voyager 2, Pioneer 10 and 11, ejected rocket boosters used to push these probes, the New Horizons probe that just passed Pluto, the third-stage booster from New Horizons (which actually passed Jupiter *ahead* of its own probe—but won't reach Pluto's orbit until later this year), and two yo-yo de-spin wired weights from New Horizons: these nifty devices are just weighted balls on wires, used to reduce a space ship's spin without any need of rockets: when the weighted ends of two of these weights, placed on opposite sides of a rotating ship, are released, the ship's spin flings them outward until they reach the end of their tether, where they hang briefly, rotating with the ship; the ship, though, is now rotating much more slowly than it had been before, because its angular momentum has spread out with the tethered weights—once the spin has been reduced to the desired speed, the wires holding the weights to the ship can be released. That's probably a confusing explanation—just see the elegant demonstration video on that Wikipedia page and it'll all make sense!

Oh yeah and there are long period comets whose calculated trajectories say they'll move outward to great distances, too—some can take millions of years in their round trip to the Sun and back. And they can even get shot out of the Solar System entirely if they get a gravitational boost from a large planet: comet C/1980 E1, for instance, was comfortably shooting along its elongated orbit, taking 7.1 million years for a round trip spanning a truly impressive 1.17 light years (that's just under 9.5 *trillion* kilometers!), which would make the orbits of the dwarf planets look like small potatoes indeed, when, in 1980, near the Sunward end of its trip, it happened to pass within about 34 million km of Jupiter: Jupiter's gravity gave the comet a boost as it passed by; when it passed the Sun two years later it was clocked at "23.3 km/s (52,000 mph)"; this speed apparently enabled it to break free of its orbit, and it is now "on an ejection trajectory going 8.6 km/s (19,000 mph)" away from the Sun; by 2008 it was already 7.5 billion km away, and "is leaving the Solar System on a hyperbolic trajectory with a higher velocity than any other natural object ever observed."

Meanwhile, we're not really going anywhere!


moizmad 12th Nov 2015, 11:27 AM edit delete reply
Just give her some strong coffee, she'll be fine.
ps- is that the new Selenis? Beautiful!
smbhax 13th Nov 2015, 6:59 AM edit delete reply
Still the old Selenis! ^_^
cattservant 12th Nov 2015, 1:04 PM edit delete reply
Mother knows best?
smbhax 13th Nov 2015, 7:00 AM edit delete reply
One would hope!