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The coldest place in the solar system may be closer to us than we think |  Sciences

The coldest place in the solar system may be closer to us than we think | Sciences

The shaded lunar craters may not be as cold as the Oort cloud, but the comparison depends on whether we consider the Oort cloud to be part of the solar system.

Space is very, very cold, as the temperature of outer space is 270.45 degrees Celsius, which is barely above absolute zero, which is the point at which the molecular movement stops.

Mentionsed a report It was published by Live Science on the sixteenth of last April that this temperature is not constant throughout the solar system, so the so-called “empty” space – although it is not actually empty – is much cooler than the planets or Moons or asteroids, for example, because there is (virtually) nothing to absorb the energy coming from the sun.

But, what is the coldest place in the solar system? How does it compare to temperatures on Earth?

Space is much colder than planets, moons, or asteroids (Pixabe)

How to measure the temperature of the universe

First, let’s take a moment to think about exactly how we measure temperatures in the universe. “Temperatures can be measured by observing the intensity of infrared and microwave radiation emitted,” says Ian Crawford, professor of planetary science and astrobiology at Birkbeck College in the United Kingdom, in an email to Live Science. from surfaces, and in the absence of such measurements, temperatures can be estimated based on the amount of sunlight the surfaces receive.

However, taking cosmological measurements is not easy. According to Don Polakow, professor of astronomy at the University of Warwick in the UK, “there is nothing direct (certain) in astronomy, mainly because you are always observing rather than than to interact.”

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So, although there are accurate ways to measure temperatures in space, there will always be room for refinement. “Temperatures are estimates, and estimating the numbers depends on how strong your assumptions are and on the model used,” Polako says.

So, with these points in mind, what is the coldest place in the solar system, at least according to current data? Is it Pluto, given its distance from the Sun? In fact, the coldest place may be much closer to Earth.

craters of the moon "most shaded" It could already be "The coldest places in the solar system"
The moon’s ‘shadowiest’ craters could actually be ‘the coldest places in the solar system’ (Shutterstock)

Moon Craters and Double Shading

In 2009 the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter—NASA’s robotic spacecraft designed to help scientists better understand conditions on the Moon—provided data indicating that “shadowed craters” at the Moon’s south pole could be the coldest place in the Solar System.

This theory was later reinforced by graduate student Patrick O’Brien and his supervisor Shane Byrne, two planetary researchers at the University of Arizona. During a talk at the Planetary and Lunar Science Conference in 2022, O’Brien and Byrne suggested that the moon’s “darker” craters could actually be “The coldest places in the solar system”.

According to O’Brien and Byrne, a crater can be considered to be the shadiest if it is “obscured not only from direct solar illumination but also from secondary heating sources, such as solar radiation reflected from nearby luminous objects as well as thermal radiation emitted by those warm surfaces”.

The average surface temperature of Pluto is minus 232.75 degrees Celsius (the island)

Polaco added that the “shaded” craters have edges high enough that no sunlight reaches the crater floor, which is why they are so cool.

O’Brien and Byrne’s research suggests that because these “permanently shaded regions” have been “shielded” from solar illumination over billions of years, their craters could contain “small cold points” that contain not only “water ice but more Compounds and volatile elements” such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen and argon. According to O’Brien and Byrne, temperatures of these craters are estimated at minus 248.15 degrees Celsius, but they may be much colder.

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Oort cloud

Crawford is confident in the validity of the research, and says, “I am sure that these are the coldest temperatures in the inner solar system (from Mercury to Mars) and also colder than the average surface temperature of Pluto.” And for information, the average surface temperature of Pluto is 232.75 degrees Celsius. , according to the US space agency (NASA).

Illustration of the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud and their Relationship to Our Solar System (NASA)

However, these shadowed lunar craters may not be as cold as the Oort Cloud, an envelope of icy space debris far from Neptune’s orbit, Crawford said, noting that the comparison depends on whether we consider the Oort Cloud to be part of the Solar System or no.

According to Northwestern University in Illinois, temperatures in the Oort cloud can be minus 268.15 degrees Celsius, and it will be much cooler than any temperature found on the Moon, unless we include the Oort cloud as part of our system The solar system It is very likely that the coldest place in the solar system is located in our closest celestial neighbor.

Comparisons with the Earth

On Earth, even the coldest and most extreme temperatures in Antarctica are warmer than the craters of the Moon or the Oort Cloud. The coldest ground temperature ever recorded was on July 21, 1983 at the Russian “Vostok” research station in Antarctica. of minus 89.2 degrees Celsius, according to the Archives of Global Climate and Extremes of the World Meteorological Organization.

Earth’s coldest temperature ever recorded was minus 89.2 degrees Celsius (Ca’ Foscari University)

However, scientists have created artificial temperatures lower than those that occur naturally on Earth, in the craters of the moon or even in the Oort cloud. Last year, a team of German researchers broke the record for the coldest temperature reached in the laboratory: 273.15 Celsius below zero.

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But when it comes to naturally occurring temperatures, our moon’s shaded craters are the lowest in our solar system, depending, of course, on the dependence of the Oort cloud.