Planet or Star? A New Discovery Fuels Astronomical Questions


OGLE-2016-BLG-1190 pic


A native of Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska enjoys exploring the many natural wonders near her hometown. In addition to walking the nature trails near Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska pursues a strong interest in astronomy and viewing the various celestial bodies in the night sky.

A recent discovery is fueling new discussions regarding the classification of astronomical objects. In June 2016, researchers working on the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment at the University of Warsaw discovered a celestial body that appears to straddle the line between a planet and a brown dwarf, a lesser variety of star. They discovered the body, labeled OGLE-2016-BLG-1190, using an indirect method of observation capable of detecting signs of the far-off world some 22,000 light years away. Researchers first detected the world due to an astronomical phenomenon known as a gravitational microlensing event, during which its gravitational pull temporarily intensified the light emitted from its parent star.

Using data from the microlensing event, researchers from the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute determined that OGLE-2016-BLG-1190 is approximately 13 times the mass of Jupiter, making it 4,000 times denser than Earth. At this size, the world rests on the boundary between a planet and a brown dwarf star. Much like a brown dwarf, the object also appears to emit a small amount of energy by fusing deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen.

The newly discovered celestial object primarily differs from other brown dwarfs in its location relative to its parent star. Brown dwarfs typically do not orbit at a distance closer than five times Earth’s orbital distance from the sun, most likely due to a dearth of gases capable of forming such an object. However, the newly discovered body orbits its star at just twice the distance of Earth, placing it in a region known as the brown dwarf desert. The discovery of this apparent anomaly has fueled further research into the formation of brown dwarf stars. Researchers will have another chance to observe the unique semi-planet in 2019, when its latest three-year orbit causes another microlensing event.


The 2017 Solar Eclipse in the United States


2017 Solar Eclipse pic

2017 Solar Eclipse

A resident of Westbury, NY, Valerie Varnuska has numerous interests including astronomy. For Valerie Varnuska and other astronomy enthusiasts, Monday, August 21, 2017, was a special day, as the United States and the rest of North America experienced a solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the moon travels between the sun and Earth, blocking part or all of the sun from view. A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely blocks the sun and the corona, the thin atmosphere of the sun, is still visible. The path where the sun was completely hidden by the moon began in Lincoln Beach, Oregon, at 10:16 a.m. PDT and traveled through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina, and ended at 2:48 p.m. EDT near Charleston, South Carolina.

Everyone in North America, and people in portions of South America, Africa, and Europe saw at the least a partial solar eclipse. It was in 1979 when the contiguous United States last witnessed a total solar eclipse.

Three Easy Interior Design Tips

Interior Design  pic

Interior Design

In her free time, Valerie Varnuska of Westbury, NY, enjoys pursuing her many and varied hobbies. One of Valerie Varnuska’s interests is interior design.

Designing or redesigning the interior of your home can be a fun but intimidating job since many of your choices will have to last for years. The following three tips will help make your next interior design job a bit easier, whether you are redecorating one room or the entire house.

1. Hang a mirror on the correct wall. Mirrors reflect light, which can make your room brighter. Hanging a mirror directly opposite a window will reflect the light right back outside. Instead, place mirrors perpendicular to windows to help reflected light fill the room.

2. Use slip covers. A slip cover can make any sofa or chair match the color scheme of your room. By using slip covers, you won’t have to purchase new furniture, which saves you money. The covers also protect your furniture from dirt and stains.

3. Choose the paint last. With the plethora of paint colors available, choosing the color palette for your room can be difficult if the room hasn’t already been decorated. Once you know the furniture and accessories the room will contain, choosing an appropriate wall color will be much easier.

Planetary Scientists Suggest Venus Once Had an Ocean

Venus pic


An enthusiastic traveler with experience as a volunteer, Valerie Varnuska pursues a wide range of hobbies and interests in Westbury, NY. Among the interests that Valerie Varnuska pursues is astronomy, the area of science related to outer space and celestial objects.

In August 2017, an article on the Science News Magazine website revealed that researchers had discovered evidence that an ocean may have once existed on Venus. New research suggests that, despite having an atmosphere that is characterized by extreme heat, carbon dioxide, and large clouds of sulfuric acid, the planet may have had the potential to support life.

In order for a planet to support the kind of life that humans are familiar with, scientists state that it must have a solid surface upon which a stable liquid can form and ideal conditions with respect to temperature and atmospheric pressure. Because of Venus’ slow rate of rotation at 116 Earth days, scientists suggest that the temperature and pressure could have been right for the formation of an ocean around 715 million years ago. This news comes more than two years after researchers discovered evidence of a large ocean on Mars that may have spanned a fifth of the red planet’s surface.

The Historic Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad in Colorado