Credit: Adam Block/Mount Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona.

I acquire the majority of email from folks through pseudoscience claims. It can be that the Planet is actually level, or that the Sun is powered by electrical energy, or that Einstein was wrong around gravity. Bonus points if the email likewise calls me an idiot or part of the astronomical illuminati. But in the world of pseudoscience another well-known method is to make a case based upon some photo. There"s no referenced source or clear history of the image, simply a picture and also a case. But even for pseudoscience, this is just being lazy, bereason in the information age imperiods can often be tracked to their resource with minimal effort.

You are watching: 5 h 42m 21.0s 22° 36′ 45.7″


Let"s look at an example. Here"s a photo I obtained in the mail this week. It looks choose some starray winged world or star, and also it is claimed this is an image of Nibiru. Depfinishing on that you listen to, Nibiru is red dwarf near the Sun, or a hidden earth in the outer solar system, or the Sun"s stellar companion. The only thing Nibiru folks seem to agree upon is that it"s heading our means and also could kill us all. If you do a quick Google photo search, certain enough you discover numerous YouTube videos and also blog articles claiming it"s an image of Nibiru. None of them provide any source to the picture, so no joy there.


But there are a couple of points we can tell from the image right off the bat. The initially that it"s in color, so it"s more than likely a compowebsite false-shade photo. In astronomy we don"t take shade imperiods, we take babsence and also white imeras at certain wavesize arrays. If we desire a color picture, we need to combine imperiods taken at various wavelengths to develop a color image. Sometimes this is done through the goal of making the photo as true to life as possible, but frequently we create "false color" imperiods to make certain functions more significant. We perform this bereason we desire to capture as a lot light as possible, and also shade digital camperiods aren"t incredibly excellent at that. There is additionally some text written on the side:

IRIS 1473:3 (NI2b) 2003UB313

21.10.2003


The object as viewed in Google Sky.

Credit: DSS Consortium, SDSS, NASA/ESA, as screencapped from Google Sky.

It all looks main and also government prefer, yet was most likely included to the picture, because raw images aren"t stamped on the image. They are typically FITS filesthat have actually the timestamp and also such as metainformation. IRIS is the name of a solar satellite, theInterconfront Region Imaging Spectrograph. But it wasn"t even introduced till June of 2013. 2003UB313 is the desigcountry for the dwarf planet Eris, and also NI2b could describe nickel boride. It"s tough to say. IRIS couldn"t have actually taken an image in 2003, and also Eris doesn"t remotely look prefer this. But going with the Google Image links, I came across a referral noting that the object could be viewed in Google Sky, at Right Ascension 5h 42m 21.0s, and Declination 22° 36′ 45.7. Sure sufficient, if you look up that location, you uncover a comparable object. Now we"re getting somewbelow.


As an interesting side note, several of the Nibiru write-ups talk about a conspiracy where Google blocked out that area of Google Sky as soon as human being uncovered it, presumably to hide Nibiru from the basic public. But Google is incredibly clear about its resources. They give crmodify to the DSS Consortium, SDSS and also NASA/ESA. The DSS Consortium is a Digitized Sky Survey that has actually digitized photographic plates from early on skies surveys, the majority of significantly the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey (POSS). The initial sky survey (POSS I) was done in 1958. A second, better resolution survey (POSS II) was done in the 1980s and also 1990s. These have actually been digitized and also are freely easily accessible to the general public. Pick what component of the sky you want to check out, and also you deserve to acquire the actual images. The just capture is that the site desires areas in decimal degrees rather than the old school hours, minutes, seconds. I could convert it by hand also, however why not let an online converter do the hefty lifting. Bada bing, bada boom, and also we haveRA: 85.5875, DEC: 22.6125. Plug these into the online DSS archive, and we have our imperiods. By default the website gives you the raw FITS files, which is what astronomers usage, but it will also give you a GIF if you prefer. The resolution is pretty low, but it does confirm that this is the object in question.


Left: DSS color compowebsite. Middle: 2MASS composite. Right: WISE compowebsite.

Credit: ADS All Sky Survey

The nice thing about sky surveys is that they are still doing them, and a lot of of the data is publicly accessible. So why not look up the object in other surveys? One good reresource is the ADS All Sky Survey, which has actually data from several sources. The nice thing around this specific site is that as soon as you find your object, you have the right to pick imeras from several skies surveys. The image over reflects 3 of them. The one on the left offers the DSS data we discovered prior to to create a "actual color" image. The middle photo provides data from theTwo Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS), which concentrates on infrared wavelengths cshed to the visible spectrum. The photo on the best is from theWide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), which looks at much longer infrared wavelengths.

It"s pretty clear that this object is bideal in the infrared and also the visible, and that the odd wing attributes are most noticeable at visible wavelengths. This is a common characteristic of T Tauri form stars. These are young stars still in the procedure of developing. Unprefer our Sun, which generates its warm from nuclear fusion, T Tauri stars are generating warm with their own gravitational weight. They tend to be brighter and also warmer than primary sequence stars of a similar mass, and they likewise tfinish to be near other gas and also dust. The light from the star often shows off this dust, producing bright reflection nebulae. This would certainly explain the wing-choose feature close to the star.

Just to be certain, we have the right to look up the object on an expensive database well-known asSIMBADVERTISEMENT (the Set of Identifications, Measurements, and also Bibliography for Astronomical Data). If it is a well-known object, it will likely be listed tright here. Entering in the RA and Dec we got from the Nibiru fans, it looks like SIMBAD finds 2 objects:GN 05.39.2, which is a reflection nebula,2MASS J05422123+2236471, which is a T Tauri type star. It has an apparent magnitude of around 12, and is more than likely around 700 to 1,000 light years amethod. We"ll understand its specific distance once the Gaia spacecraft starts releasing its information. At magnitude 12, it can also be checked out with a tiny telescope in dark rural skies. Amateur astronomer Scott Ferguboy has actually not just done this, he"s made videos reflecting his work-related.

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One of the the majority of remarkable things around astronomy is exactly how easily accessible the information is. Most of the information from big telescopes and also sky surveys are publicly accessible for totally free. Any site that short articles an image prefer the one sent out to me without offering sources is sindicate being lazy. Science isn"t about being lazy, it"s around acquiring things right, and also that"s one of the factors citations are always required.