Space jelly from today’s SpaceX launch. Beautiful pic.twitter.com/98mzIGHDOMMay 6 2022
In the early morning hours of Thursday (May 5), a camera in Waycross, Georgia saw a UFO shimmering in the sky. Bright, fast and trailing with a glowing oblong halo, the object looked a bit like a jellyfish in space, said Chris Coombs, professor of aerodynamics and mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at San Antonio. on Twitter.
Of course, as Coombs pointed out, this space jelly wasn’t a UFO—it was SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Launching from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, about 250 miles (400 km) south of Camera. Dozens of rockets leave the launch pad at the Kennedy Center each year, but few could mistake them for one of the sky’s most bioluminous invertebrates. So, what happened here?
According to Combs, it’s a combination of physics and perfect timing.
For starters, the jellyfish’s long, massive “body” is simply the exhaust coming out of the nozzle of a Falcon 9 rocket’s engine, Coombs wrote. The reason the exhaust takes such a swollen shape is due to the pressure difference inside and outside the nozzle. In this case, the exhaust leaving the nozzle is “low expansion” – meaning that the gas pressure is higher than the pressure of the air around it as the exhaust leaves the nozzle.
To match the ambient background pressure in the atmosphere, the rocket’s exhaust lowers its pressure by expanding once it leaves the nozzle, according to Coombs.
“In the low expansion exhaust, you get expansion fans at the nozzle outlet to reduce pressure and match the background: jellyfish, at high altitudes,” tweet combs.
This explains the point. But what about glare?
This is much simpler to set, Combs said, and it’s just a matter of timing. Since the launch of the rocket occurred in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday morning (about 5:45 a.m. local time), the light from the sun It came a little over the horizon, illuminating the exhaust shaft, making it glow brightly against the darkened sky.
Physics plus perfect timing equals space jellyfish. A simple equation for the high-altitude scene.
Of course, if you want to see a file fact Jellyfish in space, you’ll need to look a little further into space – about 300 million light years Well to be exact. This is how far away the group of galaxies is Abell 2877; When astronomers recently looked at the object with a radio telescope, they saw a ghostly outline of a jellyfish swimming in far space. who – which Big jelly in the sky It’s also the result of a large gas explosion — in this case, a massive explosion from a group of ancient black holes, Live Science previously reported.
Originally published on Live Science.
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