Space is huge. People can’t even believe how incredibly big it is. Perhaps this is why it’s notoriously difficult for us to wrap our minds around it. There are billions of stars and planets in our galaxy. So, who can blame us if we can’t quite understand space even after thousands of years? Look at the expanse we need to research!
NASA recently sent the Perseverance rover to Mars to look for signs for past microbial life and soil samples, and prepare for future human exploration. Maybe this program will give us some much needed answers about the area thousands of miles away from Earth. We guess we’ll find out in the years to come.
For now, we should focus on the present. And today various myths about space are kept alive even though what they’re implying isn’t based on facts. It’s high time we debunk them and tell you what they got wrong! As you’ll see, you shouldn’t trust everything you hear.
Television and movies can be educational, but they are often misleading. This is especially true about those shows and films that focus on space. Odds are, you heard about some of these myths about space from them!
We’re here to dispel these misconceptions and help you separate fact from fiction!
Myth: The Sun Is Yellow
If you were to ask a child to draw the Sun, the chances are they would reach for the yellow crayon or marker. The same would happen if you were to request this from an adult. Ever since we could remember, the Sun has been of this color for us. And we’re forgiven for believing in this misconception. We’re not at fault here! Yellow is what we see every time we look at the Sun.
However, we see this color thanks to our atmosphere. It is quite possible that you’ve even seen official photographs where the Sun was yellow. The thing is to make astronomical objects more recognizable, astronomers will often modify their pictures. That’s why we can find photos of a yellow Sun which makes this one of the most prevalent myths about space! The reality, though, is that the true color of the Sun is white.
But to understand this, you have to learn a thing or two about light itself. Namely, light that we see is actually just a tiny fraction of the energies of light that exist in the universe. When mixed together, the combination of this light appears white. However, the colors of the rainbow are different energies of light your eyes can see.
Once light from the Sun reaches your eyes, it has already traveled across the solar system and all the way through Earth’s atmosphere. It is this atmosphere that bends solar radiation before the light makes it to our eyes. This is why the Sun appears more yellow. Yet if we were in space, the Sun would be white to us.
What are other myths about space we need to destroy? Let’s find out!
Myth: The Sun Is on Fire
The Sun, as you probably know, is a yellow dwarf star at the heart of our solar system. Our fascination with this star has given rise to different myths about space. One of them maintains that the Sun is on fire. For whatever reason, we believe we’re dealing with a blazing ball of fire. The actuality is quite different from this misconception. The Sun is a ball of gas.
What’s more, the Sun burns because of nuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. This nuclear fusion occurs in its core where the Sun fuses more than 600 million metric tons of hydrogen every second. As a result, the energy is released as gamma rays which then shine into the universe. Therefore, the star that gathers different planets in the solar system emits light and heat — there’s no fire here because oxygen isn’t involved!
Now that we’ve debunked two myths about space that feature the Sun, we can move on with other misconceptions!
Myth: There’s No Gravity in Space
There’s a high chance that you’ve seen some footage from the International Space Station featuring weightless astronauts flipping and floating around as they give interviews or show us what life is like in space. These videos lead people to believe that there’s no gravity in space. But this couldn’t be further from the truth and we had to add this misconception on our list of myths about space.
Indeed, if there were no gravity in space, then we wouldn’t see footage of astronauts or objects orbiting the Earth. As science explains, gravity is in fact an attractive force. In other words, it draws objects closer together. On Earth, we feel that attraction between our own weight, i.e. mass, and the Earth. Astronauts experience a similar thing in space. When a rocket is up there, it feels the pull of the planet’s gravity, which is also felt by the astronauts it carries on board.
Furthermore, wherever they are, they are bound by a gravitational relationship with other objects. These could be faraway planets or stars. Even on the space station, astronauts and the vehicle they’re in are falling toward the Earth. What makes them look weightless is the fact that they can’t feel the Earth pushing back on them. There’s so many things to know in order to dispel myths about space!
So yes, there is gravity in space. It is what holds the Moon in orbit around Earth and enables us to continue with our explorations. The only difference is that the gravitational pull weakens as you get away from the Earth.
Myth: Black Holes Will Suck Everything Into Them
Black holes have become notorious over the years. In fact, we would go as far as to say that people fear these strange regions existing in our universe. No surprise here — they are the most extreme objects up there. They hold so much mass that they create a region around them and no one can escape from its gravity.
This fact has led people to conclude that black holes can suck everything into them. We perceive them as vacuum cleaners, ready to consume everything and anything that approaches them. However, this is just a misconception.
What we know thanks to research is that the huge masses of black holes bend space-time in extreme ways. If you were to stand in the close vicinity of black holes, you would definitely feel their strong gravitational force. Nevertheless, their gravitational pull is just like that of other objects. In other words, it depends on mass and distance. This means that black holes are more like sinkholes than vacuums.
That’s our list of prevalent myths about space! Were you surprised by some misconceptions that made the cut?