We usually think of scientific discoveries as breakthroughs of the distant past—Isaac Newton’s law of universal gravitation, or Charles Darwin striking on the concept of natural selection. But scientific discoveries are happening all the time, with the world as we understand it being reconsidered and revised every day, often without our even realizing it happened.
That has certainly been true the last couple decades, in which scientists have struck on some surprising findings and changed our view of the world in ways large and small. science of universe space science
Earth’s Older Cousin
In July 2015, NASA reported that it had spotted Earth’s “bigger, older cousin.” Dubbed Kepler 452b, it is 60% larger in diameter than Earth with a temperature similar to our planet’s. NASA described the discovery of the planet and 11 other small planets as a “milestone in the journey to finding another ‘Earth.’” science of universe space science
A Black Hole That’s 12 Billion Times as Big as the Sun
The Sun is pretty massive, but it’s got nothing on SDSS J0100+2802. That catchy-named “hyperluminous quasar” that holds one of the most massive black holes in the universe—about 12 billion times the mass of the Sun with a diameter of 70.9 billion kilometers. science of universe space science
“By comparison, our own Milky Way Galaxy has a black hole with a mass of only 4 million solar masses at its center; the black hole that powers this new quasar is 3,000 times heavier,” co-author Dr Xiaohui Fan from the University of Arizona, explained in 2015 when the discovery was announced. science of universe space science