Monday, September 14, 2009

2012 stuff...

I hardly know anything about astronomy or astrophysics. But like a lot of people I like to imagine what awful calamity the universe has in store for us, and the whole 2012 "galactic alignment" thing has me imagining things which are fun to imagine but have no idea how true they might be.

So the whole alignment thing is that the Sun, and hence the Solar System, revolves around the Pleiades, which are that tiny little bundle of stars way straight up mostly in the same place all the time.

A theory is that the Pleiades are the remnants of a galaxy that once collided with our current Milky Way, and although it has been consumed, momentum causes the Solar System to revolve around it. So the Solar System revolves around the Pleiades like the rim of a wagon wheel around the axle.

The Solar System and the Pleiades, in turn, revolve around the supermassive center of the Milky Way. But the Solar System revolves around the Pleiades along a plane somewhat perpendicular to the plane of the galactic equator.

This Pleiades-centric revolution causes the track of the Solar System relative to the center of the Mikly Way to "bob" up and down, above and below the plane.

So if the Milky Way is a wagon wheel spinning on its side, the Solar System/Pleiades arrangement is like a little wagon wheel spinning around a spoke-- that is, with a spoke emanating from the galactic center as its axle-- about three quarters of the way away from the center. And of course the Earth revolves around the Sun, which is similarly on a spoke of the wheel that has its center in the Pleiades, but the Sun's equator is mostly parallel with the plane of the Pleiades. And of course none of the wheels are neccessarily perfectly round, but elliptical and some more than others, and even then not always perfectly elliptical.

All of this revolving happens very slowly, even though the speeds are very high the distances to complete a revolution are vast, and all of the parts of the pieces of the galactic region we are in stay more or less together in relation to one another. So, again, if the galaxy is ideally a flat disk, then we are sometimes below, sometimes above, that disk. In addition, as the Earth rotates, its axis remains at a constant angle ot the sun, but it is like a smootly spinning top which leans as it spins. As a result, we, on its surface, over centuries see changes in the positions of constellations.

And of course this galactic disk it is not ideally flat, it is kind of fuzzy, but mostly disk like, so there is the idea of an imaginary line that is the exact 'equator' of the galaxy, that we are either above or below as this assemblage revolves around the galactic center.

At any rate, there is this notion that on Dec 21 or 23, 2012, we will be right on that galactic disk's equator, and the winter solstice will align with the equator of the galaxy. And, depending on what you read, that already happened in 1998, but the Mayan calendar recycles on 12/21/2012 so that is more woo-woo. And, again, the fluffy nature of the galaxy makes it hard to tell exactly where that equator is, but the belief is that the Maya, who had clearer skies, I guess, used the crossing thereof to set their calendar start.

The conventional wisdom is that this means nothing: the equator of the galaxy has been traversed before, and it will be again, it is a momentum thing and so there.

The unconventional wisdom is that there is a 'focus' of gravitational force at the equator, and when we hit it all kinds of things will happen.

If you think of the supermassive collapsed stars at the center of the galaxy to be like Saturn, and the galaxy is its "rings", then the rings arrange themselves on that thin line around the equator of the planet. There is a point closer to the planet where there are no rings, and presumably the ring material fell into the planet. Also, there is a point outside of the rings where Saturn's pull does not arrange things into rings.

And of course it does seem like orbiting things tend to arrange themselves around the equator of the thing they are orbiting.

So if we are descending to the "horizontal center" of the disk, then things might be orbiting there around the larger galactic center that we are unaware of, as if we are passing through Saturn's rings. But what will that be made of? Mostly it would be gas, it seems, if there is anything. That "interstellar dust" that looks so lovely in Hubble photos. Or, some of the same types of flotsam that the Oort Cloud is made out of. And even if it is "concentrated" along that plane, in this case the "Saturn" is millions of light years away, so the sorts of things that would remain under the galactic center's influence and not have been swept away by some other group of nearer stars would be meagre, so even a concentration would be sparse. Even though the supermassive galactic center is huge, they say, it won't have that great an effect on the Oort Cloud so far out-- not as great an effect as nearby stars who we are already familiar with.

But if we encounter a "membrane" of the same sort of stuff that that Oort Cloud is made out of, it seems reasonable to consider that that thin layer stuff might perturb the Oort Cloud and cause some things to fall towards the Sun. In which case some many years later we might see them as comets. But not neccessarily on that same day in 2012.

The Oort Cloud is far, far out from the edge of the Solar System. If the Solar System is the nucleus of a bubble, then the Oort Cloud is the skin of the bubble, geometrically speaking. But it is not a continuous membrane, it is made up of particles. So if there is a flat but sparser layer of the same sort of "granular bubble skin" at the galactic equator, then we can imagine it will have some effect on the Oort Cloud. So as the bubble descends through that layer, the layer will tend to maintain its position for some time, and then fall under the influence of the Sun's gravitational pull, and other body's pulls, which may result in their "accretion" into the Oort Cloud, or accretion into the other attacting bodies. The bodies with the most mass will exert the strongest attraction. But this is all based on the surmise that there is a layer of stuff that the Earth will pass thru at the galactic equator, and that the layer is not so sparsely populated that it would actually matter-- both of which are surmises based on the notion that *something* has to happen on 12/21/2012 because that's when the Mayan calendar flips over to a new "long count" era and it is all just so... cosmic; like.

Also, given all the above in our hypothesis, some things in the Oort Cloud and the layer being penetrated might get knocked loose. But, nowadays anyway, things have a lot of trouble actually colliding with one another in this celestial region. Instead they are dragged along by something else's gravity, until something bigger drags them another way. But if our "Oort Cloud Skinned Bubble" is descending through a less dense layer of some of the same kind of skin, some bits of the skin will be drawn away by the leading edge of the "bubble", and bits of that skin will remain more or less in place by the time our Solar System at the nucleus of the bubble passes through that skin. So there may be a chance for new things to come under the influence of the Sun, and some chance for things to hit us.

Now, to mention another woo-woo theory, there may be some mysterious force that emanates from the galactic center that we do not know about-- some kind of hyper gravity-lensing that occurs at the equator of the galaxy. We see that other galaxies seem to have not one disc, but two, stacked like pancakes, but with horizontal space in between them. Why is that space there? Because some mysterious force clears that area around their galactic center's equator: it is a matter-free zone. And we are descending from the upper disc towards that equator. But again there is no proof of this, it is speculation based on a simple observation.

So if that is true in our galaxy. we may hit that zone, and it sucks the whole Solar System down a little further towards the galactic center, before our momentum around the Pleiades brings us out down below the galactic equator. So we still revolve around the Pleiades, in a manner roughly perpendicular to the galactic equator, but that "wheel" is turned slightly to the side by the massive, mysterious force. (Also the roughly perpendicular thing is just to help visualize all of this, it is more like a 45 degree angle-- there are good youtube animations that illustrate this well but they are all hard selling the woo-woo theories so I hesitate to link to them).

Even then, not a lot happens, because the current mechanics that hold the Earth around the Sun and all the other pieces are still intact. The proximate forces are the ones that are most powerful, and those continue to maintain their effects.

Now, what if for some reason there are all sorts of star and planet pieces, like Saturn's rings, spinning around that galactic center, and we're headed smack dab for em? Bigger chunks, not 'grains'.

It seems to be really hard to find things that are willing to get tangled up in the Solar System and slam into us. Lord knows they try. Here is a list of some of those things that are already known about. The ones with an "LD" of less than one are coming closer to us than the moon is on average. The one coming closest, soonest, is Apophis. But that isn't until 2029. It is coming nine hundredths of a lunar distance close, which is a little less than 35000 kilometers, which is a little less than 22,000 miles. That's about a hundred times further away from the Earth than the ISS orbits.

But, maybe some pieces will break off of Apophis and we'll see some stuff worthy of Hollywood movie effects. Or maybe NASA's math is wrong, and it slams into us!

At any rate, though, it looks like 2012 isn't going to be apocalyptic so far. Even if the "descending into granulated bubble skin" theory is correct, it seems like we should expect to see the discovery of a whole bunch of new comet/asteroid type things increase dramatically, so the chances of something hitting us become "less astronomical", but still, well... astronomical.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home