Answers ready to be served! – Astronomy Q&A for the month.

Dad and three sons on a clear night looking thru a telescope

As mentioned in my last month’s post, I am dedicating a week to answer questions picked from Quora about Astronomy. So here is this month’s batch.

  1. What would happen if a bullet was shot in outer space?

Answer:

Space does not have oxygen but that doesn’t mean your gun won’t fire. Modern gun has ammunition that has its own oxidizer that triggers the explosion. So when you shoot a gun into space two things happen:

  • Experience Newton’s third law of motion, you being on the other side and with higher mass, you will move backwards.
  • The bullet keeps going into the space towards infinity as universe expands faster than a speeding bullet in space (unless it comes across any object on its path). Peter Schultz, an astronomer at Brown University describes the shooting would look like “an expanding sphere of smoke from the tip of the barrel”

Bonus note: Russian cosmonaut’s survival pack includes a gun. Recently it has been upgraded to “a deluxe all-in-one” weapon with three barrels and a folding stock that doubles as a shovel and contains a swing-out machete.

     2. How do astronauts stay fit in deep space?

Answer:

Astronauts on the International Space station should dedicate themselves to at least two hours of exercise everyday. It is mandatory.  If they do not exercise, astronauts lose their bones and muscle, meaning decreasing  size and strength making them weak to work. There are two major reasons why an astronaut has to exercise, (i) Microgravity makes your bodily fluids move. While that happens, fluids like plasma are lost and that’s where your red blood cells exist. Less red blood cells means less oxygen circulation. So exercising is necessary as it helps in generating  red blood cells. (ii) There is a condition called “orthostatic intolerance” which is the state where you get light headed when you quickly get up from a sleeping position.  With zero gravity, astronauts experience  this condition and are prone to fainting. So again, exercising prevents them from fainting.

Bonus note: According to NASA, there are three exercises/equipments that they use, Cycle Ergometer (Like a bicycle – involves pedaling), Treadmill and Resistance Exercise Device- RED ( Looks like a weight lifting machine. Used for a full body workout,  from squats and bending exercises for the legs, to arm exercises and heel raises).

    3. What’s the most distant known Galaxy?

Answer:

Our Hubble Telescope made this discovery – this galaxy existed 400 million years after the Big Bang. This galaxy has been named GN-z11 and it’s extremely faint however brighter considering the distance from Earth.

Bonus note: How does astronomers determine distance galaxies? They measure the redshift of the observed object; meaning, scientists measure the degree to which the light from galaxy has been shifted by expanding universe. The higher the redshift, the distance the object.

galaxyGNz11
GN-z11

    4. Are space suits waterproof?

Answer:

Spacesuit for astronomers are like personal spacecrafts and the white space suit they wear while they go for space walk is called Extravehicular Mobility Unit. Anyway, the answer is YES, spacesuits are waterproof and not just that, they are bulletproof, they heavily protect astronaut from their skin being exposed and so many other features. I will have to write a separate blog on this – I will soon! Keep a lookout!

    5. Why don’t we feel the acceleration of our galaxy?

Answer:

Lets not think big. Take our very own planet  for instance, it’s spinning right now – approx 1,600 per hour and can’t feel a thing: because, it’s not just the Earth that is spinning but also everything around it – the atmosphere, oceans are all spinning at a constant speed. Usually this is compared with how you cannot feel that you are moving at a great speed while on a plane. You are on air moving fast but you are able to walk around and not wear seat belt (conditionally) because, you and everything else is travelling at the same speed. This is the reason why you don’t feel its acceleration.

Sources: NASA, sciencealert.com, livescience.com, space.com

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