An astronomer at Japan's space agency is making simple animations that reveal the surprising physics of the solar system

Asia's Tech News Daily

An astronomer at Japan's space agency is making simple animations that reveal the surprising physics of the solar system
© NASA An artist’s concept of our solar system showing a sense of scale and distance. NASA

James O’Donoghue went viral for the first time in December 2018.

He was a planetary scientist for NASA at the time, but the federal government had temporarily shut down due to budget disputes in Congress. He’d been told not to work or even check his email. So with extra time on his hands, he took to Photoshop.

O’Donoghue and his NASA colleagues had just measured the material raining onto Saturn from its rings, and found that the rings will slowly fall away over 100 million years. He realized that people would probably wonder what that will look like.

So a few days before their study’s publication, O’Donoghue slapped an expanding black circle onto an image of Saturn and faded most of its rings away. The New York Times featured his animation with the news of the study.

An astronomer at Japan's space agency is making simple animations that reveal the surprising physics of the solar system
© NASA/Cassini/James O’Donoghue O’Donoghue’s impression of how Saturn may look in the next 100 million years. The innermost rings disappear as they rain onto the planet. NASA/Cassini/James O’Donoghue

Then, as he continued to roam the Internet while waiting for government work to resume, O’Donoghue realized that he couldn’t find any videos comparing each planet’s spin side by side. So he made one.

He pulled together images of all the planets, tilted them to the correct degree, and made them spin at their real-life speeds. He threw numbers next to them for good measure.

The video took off.

“It was viewed by 1.6 million [people] in a couple of days. As someone with 450 followers, I thought that was a bit ridiculous,” O’Donoghue told Insider.

But he realized that it had taken about 16 hours to make the video, which means he’d reached roughly 100,000 people for each hour of work.

“I thought, ‘This is actually kind of efficient’ – an efficient way of doing outreach to people,” he said. “If you’re from a rural area like myself, that’s kind of important. I didn’t have any exposure to any scientists where I’m from. You’d have to go very far away to reach one.”

O’Donoghue grew up in the English town of Shrewsbury, then later among the hills and farms of Newton, Wales. He’d never thought of astronomy as a career option until he left for university.

Since the planets video, O’Donoghue has almost always had another idea for an animation bouncing around in his head. He has now created more than 80 such animations for his Youtube channel.

The effort earned him the Europlanet Society’s Prize for Public Engagement last month.

An astronomer at Japan's space agency is making simple animations that reveal the surprising physics of the solar system
© James O’Donoghue James O’Donoghue at NASA. James O’Donoghue

“Among the talented and motivated science communication projects nominated this year, James O’Donoghue’s brilliant animations stood out,” Dr. Federica Duras, who chaired the award jury, said in a press release. “In their simplicity they are a masterclass in outreach and communication, and the fact that they do not rely on language and translation means that they are perfectly inclusive, easily adaptable and usable all over the world.”

“A lot of this is just play,” O’Donoghue, who now works at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), told Insider. “I kind of just go where I enjoy with it.”

Here are some of his best videos.

After his early successes, O’Donoghue pivoted to illustrating the speed of light

This series of videos shows a particle of light (a photon) traveling across different distances in space. It zips around Earth faster than you can blink, and ping-pongs between Earth and the moon every 1.255 seconds.

But the distance between planets is so large that it takes a photon several minutes to cross. That’s why space agencies like NASA will always have a delay in communicating with rovers on Mars – even if they develop the ability to send messages at light speed.

Another video shows how the moon has retreated over 4.5 billion years

About 4.5 billion years ago, a Mars-sized object (or perhaps a series of many smaller objects) crashed into Earth, sending bits of our planet’s crust into space. They fell into Earth’s orbit and eventually coalesced, forming our moon. That newborn moon – a ball of molten rock with a magma ocean – was nearly 16 times closer to Earth than it is today.

As it cooled, the moon backed away, retreating thousands of miles.

O’Donoghue’s sequence starts with the moon’s current position and follows it back in time to its birth, tracking its distance from Earth, apparent size relative to our planet, and the speed of its movement.

Some videos debunk myths, like the dark side of the moon

Although there is a side of the moon that we never see from Earth, it’s not dark all the time.

“Remember not to say ‘dark side of the moon’ when referring to the ‘far side of the moon,'” O’Donoghue said on Twitter. “This graphic shows the dark side is always in motion.”

The video shows how sunlight falls across the moon as it orbits Earth. In one orbit of about 29.5 days, all sides of the moon get bathed in sunlight at some point.

Others demonstrate shocking facts of physics – like the true center of the solar system

Hint: It’s not really the sun.

“Instead, everything orbits the solar system center of mass,” O’Donoghue explained on Twitter. “Even the sun.”

That center of mass, called the barycenter, is the point of an object at which it can be balanced perfectly, with all its mass distributed evenly on all sides. In our solar system, that point rarely lines up with the center of the sun.

His animation shows how the sun, Saturn, and Jupiter play tug-of-war around the barycenter, pulling our star in looping mini-orbits.

Earth and the moon have their own barycenter, too

That point is about 3,000 miles from our planet’s center, just below its surface.

By the way, Earth has two types of day

The sidereal day happens each time Earth completes a 360-degree rotation. That takes 23 hours and 56 minutes.

But because Earth is constantly moving along its orbit around the sun, a different point on the planet faces the sun directly at the end of that 360-degree spin. For the sun to reach the exact same position in the sky, Earth has to rotate 1 degree further, which takes another four minutes to make a 24-hour spin.

The solar day – the one humans count in the calendar – happens when Earth spins that extra degree, and the sun is at the same point in the sky as it was 24 hours ago.

Because we go by solar days in our calendars, we count 365 days in a year. But Earth actually completes a full rotation (a sidereal day) 366 times per year.

A more recent video shows how fast (or slow) a ball would drop on each planet

For this video, O’Donoghue collaborated with Rami Mandow, who founded the website Space Australia.

The speed of the ball’s fall depends on the planet’s mass – a more massive planet has a stronger gravitational force – and its density. The closer the ball is to a planet’s center of mass, the stronger the gravitational force.

“I really like how this one came out,” O’Donoghue said.

Many of his animations compare the planets

This animation also shows how fast each planet spins and how much they’re tilted on their axes.

He’s also compared planets by putting them all on one globe

This video shows how quickly the planets spin relative to one another. Jupiter, for example, rotates 2.4 times faster than Earth.

His adaptation of a NASA animation shows the oceans draining away

This remake of a 2008 NASA video shows what it would look like if Earth’s water drained away, revealing the hidden three-fifths of the planet’s surface.

“This animation reveals that the ocean floor is just as variable and interesting in its geology as the continents,” O’Donoghue said.

O’Donoghue even circled back to his main research subject: Saturn

It may not be obvious in photos, but the ice and rock chunks that make up Saturn’s rings circle at rates nearly 70 times the speed of sound. But each ring moves at its own specific pace. The animation above shows how it all moves.

“In a way, the ring system is like a mini solar system,” O’Donoghue said. “Objects close to Saturn orbit faster, otherwise they would fall in, while objects far away can afford to go slower. This is the same for planets.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Internet Explorer Channel Network
Asia's Tech News Daily
News Related


Panicked New York bagel shop owners are hoarding cream cheese and crossing state lines for supply as dairy companies struggle against supply chain crisis

© Provided by Business Insider iStock/Getty Images New York City bagel shops are experiencing a shortage of cream cheese due to heightened demand and supply chain constraints.  Several store owners ... Read more »

NPHET members to seek permission to speak to media as Varadkar ‘very critical' of team

© Provided by A ‘very tense’ meeting between the government and NPHET took place the afternoon before the Taoiseach announced more COVID restrictions. A meeting was hastily arranged between ... Read more »

My son, 11, had to go to school without showering for 4 DAYS when running water stopped at our housing association flat

A SINGLE mum has shared how she was forced to send her son to school without a shower for four days after running water stopped at their flat. Loyla Akthar, ... Read more »

Cherry Pie Picache's son supports mom's relationship with Edu Manzano

© Provided by Suportado ni Antonio ‘Nio’ Tria, anak ni Cherry Pie Picache, ang bagong relasyon ng ina sa batikang aktor na si Edu Manzano. Rebelasyon niya, “Actually, hindi ... Read more »

I'm A Celebrity's Frankie Bridge reveals real reason she played hard to get with Wayne

FRANKIE Bridge played hard to get with partner Wayne because she assumed the fact he was a footballer meant he was “bad news”. But the I’m A Celeb star said ... Read more »

Is it possible to have a climate-friendly Christmas?

Christmas generates incredible waste. But does it have to? (Getty) Sustainability is influencing more and more of Britain’s consumer and lifestyle habits as more of us grow aware of the ... Read more »

Anti-lockdown protesters march through Dutch city of Utrecht

1 / 7Virus Outbreak NetherlandsThousands of demonstrators march in Utrecht, Netherlands, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, to protest against COVID-19 restrictions and the lockdown. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong) UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — ... Read more »

Meet Ami, the tiny 28mph cube on wheels that affluent French 14-year-olds can drive

Citroen’s ‘urban mobility object’€is classed as a light quadricycle and can be driven without a full licence France’s golden youth is in the throes of a craze for les voiturettes ... Read more »

Proses vaksinasi ‘bercelaru', Ahli Parlimen DAP kecam GPS adakan pilihan raya

© Provided by Free Malaysia Today Penerima vaksin dos penggalak dilihat bersesak di sebuah pusat beli belah di Kuching, hari ini. (Gambar Facebook Kelvin Yii) PETALING JAYA: Seorang Ahli Parlimen ... Read more »

LaMelo Ball enters NBA's COVID-19 protocols; How many games will Hornets star miss?

LaMelo Ball’s sophomore campaign is going to come to a brief halt. © Provided by Sporting News The Hornets announced on Dec. 4 that Ball, Terry Rozier, Jalen McDaniels and Mason Plumlee have entered ... Read more »

Vargas Llosa unterstützt Rechtskandidaten Kast bei Wahl in Chile

© Keystone/ZUMA Press Wire/Matias Basualdo Der peruanische Literatur-Nobelpreisträger Mario Vargas Llosa hat vor der zweiten Runde der Präsidentenwahl in Chile seine Unterstützung für den ultrarechten Kandidaten Antonio Kast zum Ausdruck ... Read more »

Schütze-Saison: Dieses Sternzeichen hat eine Geld-Glückssträhne

© ISTOCKPHOTO Mit dem Geld läuft es gerade sehr gut Bei diesem Sternzeichen läuft es während der Schütze-Saison vom 23. November bis zum 21. Dezember finanziell gesehen mehr als gut! ... Read more »

‘Chinese agents tried to kill me with two poisoned fried eggs after I tried to expose truth about Covid,' says scientist

A CHINESE virologist living in hiding in the US has claimed Chinese agents tried poison her after she exposed the “truth” about the origins of Covid. In an exclusive interview ... Read more »

Police subdue priest who shouted 'heretic' at Pope

Pope Francis was heckled by an elderly Greek Orthodox priest on Saturday as he arrived for a meeting with the head of the country’s Orthodox Church. (Dec. 4) Read more »

Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo in agreement over best young player in the world

Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo both voted for Manchester United ‘s Mason Greenwood to be crowned the world’s best young player and win the 2021 Kopa Trophy. The pair, formerly ... Read more »

18 people who flew from South Africa to the Netherlands had Omicron variant

More than 600 passengers traveling on the flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town were tested for COVID-19. WHO Dutch health authorities confirmed Saturday that 18 passengers who arrived in the ... Read more »

Professor ‘vilified' over accusations of transphobic views quits Open University

Prof Jo Phoenix will move to the University of Reading to teach law and criminology – Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph A respected professor of criminology has quit the Open ... Read more »

Ex claims Ethan Crumbley's father is a deadbeat, calls mother a ‘monster'

Michelle Cobb hopes the Ethan Crumbley’s parents get “the maximum” after their son shot up a school. Getty Images Ethan Crumbley’s father spoiled him rotten — but was a deadbeat ... Read more »

London has among lowest rates of booster jabs in England

A person receives a dose of the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a vaccination site at the Westfield shopping centre in London. (REUTERS) Covid-19 vaccine rates in London remain ... Read more »

Sophie Raworth named interim host of BBC's Andrew Marr Show

Raworth has been one of the main presenters of the BBC News At Six and Ten since 2003 (Getty Images) Sophie Raworth has been announced as the interim presenter of ... Read more »

Everton fans plan mass walkout protest against Arsenal in angry gesture to board

Everton fans are planning a mass walkout in their Premier League fixture with Arsenal on Monday night to protest against the club’s board. The Toffees are without a win in ... Read more »

Dawson Devoy among 11 players to re-sign with Bohemians for 2022

© Ben Brady INPHO Dawson Devoy has re-signed for Bohemians. DAWSON DEVOY IS among 11 players to have re-signed for Bohemians for 2022, the Dublin club have confirmed. Devoy, who ... Read more »

Football fans unite and pay respect to murdered Arthur in sixth-minute tribute

Football fans across the country have paid tribute to a six-year-old boy who was killed by his own family. Arthur Labinjo-Hughes died in June 2020 after being tortured by his ... Read more »

Comelec: Over 100 party-list groups denied registration for Eleksyon 2022

Comelec logo Comelec thumbnail The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has denied the applications of over 100 party-list groups that had sought to participate in the May 2022 polls. The poll ... Read more »

Preparations for Khelo India Youth Games to be completed by 31 Dec: Khattar

© Provided by The Statesman Preparations for Khelo India Youth Games to be completed by 31 Dec: Khattar Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, on Saturday, said all preparations would ... Read more »

Amarinder Singh takes on Congress for 'personal attacks' over frienship with Aroosa Alam; rakes up Sidhu-Azhar tiff of 1996

© Provided by Firstpost Amarinder Singh takes on Congress for ‘personal attacks’ over frienship with Aroosa Alam; rakes up Sidhu-Azhar tiff of 1996 In an exclusive interview to News18, former ... Read more »

Himachal Pradesh becomes first state to fully vaccinate its target population, says Govt

© Provided by Zee News Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has become the first state to fully vaccinate 100 per cent of its adult population against COVID-19, an official spokesperson claimed here ... Read more »

Here's how you can stay safe from the omicron variant during the holidays

With new omicron cases detected in at least 11 states in the U.S, many people are asking how they can safely travel this holiday season when they go to visit ... Read more »

India's COVID vaccination coverage crosses 127 crores after another 'one crore' day

© Provided by Zee News New Delhi: India`s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage has crossed 127 crore doses on Saturday, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. This comes ... Read more »

Travel restrictions are changing: What to know if you're going to Hawaii, Mexico, overseas

Just as holiday travel returned to full swing, the new omicron COVID-19 variant erupted. Omicron caused widespread international flight cancellations, stranding many people far from home, and countries including the ... Read more »

Steelers LB T.J. Watt off COVID-19 list, eligible vs. Ravens

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers activated star linebacker T.J. Watt off the COVID-19 list on Saturday, giving their beleaguered defense a boost before Sunday’s visit by AFC North-leading Baltimore. ... Read more »

Climate crisis: Is the UK doing enough to meet its net-zero promises?

The UK’s pledge to slash carbon emissions by 78 per cent over the next 14 years will not be delivered unless more ambition action is taken, official climate advisers have ... Read more »

Tampa police arrest 16-year-old in shooting death of 13-year-old

TAMPA — A 16-year-old faces a charge of first-degree murder in last month’s shooting death of a 13-year-old boy, according to Tampa police. Ja’Marion Strange was arrested Friday night in ... Read more »

Hundreds more migrants leave Belarus on Iraq-bound flight

© Reuters/AZAD LASHKARI FILE PHOTO: Iraqi migrants arrive at Erbil International Airport MOSCOW (Reuters) – More than 400 migrants who had travelled to Belarus seeking to cross the border into ... Read more »

Red Arrows pilots at risk in aircraft without stall alarms, warns coroner

The Hawk T1 jet bursts into flames at RAF Valley, killing Corporal Jonathan Bayliss, as Flight Lieutenant David Stark parachutes to earth More airmen could die in accidents like the ... Read more »

‘Councils have been short-changed. We need more government money'

Photograph: Karen Robinson/the Observer Craig Cheney sits slumped in his chair, with a look of dejection in place of his usually cheery demeanour. Bristol’s deputy mayor, who is also chair ... Read more »

Man accused of trying to intimidate judge in Potter trial

In this screen grab from video, Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu presides over jury selection Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter ... Read more »

Manhattan lawyer battling NYPD, courts over rejected ‘carry' permit

Max Leifer said, “It seems that celebrities, athletes and a select few are allowed permits, while law-abiding citizens are denied their constitutional right.” Helayne Seidman A Manhattan lawyer lost a ... Read more »

I'm A Celeb fans call for show to be extended by a WEEK after series forced off air amid Storm Arwen

FANS of I'm A Celebrity are calling for the show to be extended by a WEEK after the series was forced off air due to Storm Arwen. The ITV show ... Read more »

Platinum Karaoke, Meralco, Terrafirma unbeaten in PBA 3x3 Leg 4 opener

Photo: PBA Images Platinum Karaoke solidified its title bid after sweeping all its games in the opening day of the PBA 3×3 Leg 4 on Saturday at the Ynares Sports ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic