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Space Exploration

Which metal has the greatest mass?





Mentions of “heavy metals” are frequently made in discussions about mining, specific industries, and the composition of certain asteroids. What is the heaviest metal, and could that record be surpassed in the future?

What exactly qualifies as heavy?
There may appear to be little room for confusion in a concise inquiry such as “What is the heaviest metal?” However, appearances can be deceiving. Just consider that any metal can become the heaviest when you have a sufficient amount of it. Just imagine if separate mountains were formed from every metal found on Earth. The iron mountain would undoubtedly be the heaviest due to its abundance. After all, iron constitutes a significant portion of the Earth’s core.

Unfortunately, this is not what the majority of individuals have in mind. In general, an element’s density, or the weight of its atom, which is the sum of its protons and neutrons, determines how heavy it is. Although the two are related and often increase simultaneously, they do not have a perfect correlation. Certain elements with fewer nucleons have electron shells that enable them to be more tightly packed, resulting in a higher density compared to elements with more nucleons.

Below, we will examine both measures.

What exactly constitutes metal?
Defining what constitutes a metal can be quite challenging, as the answer varies depending on your scientific background.

According to astronomers, all elements, apart from hydrogen and helium, are classified as metals. Given that the majority of a star’s mass is composed of only two elements, it’s understandable that people tend to group all the other elements together.

Physicists with a focus on earthly matters have a narrower definition. According to Sir Nevill Mott, metals are substances that have the ability to conduct electricity even at extremely low temperatures, such as absolute zero (−273.15 °C / −459.67 °F). Mott, being a Nobel Prize laureate in the field of metal studies, holds a highly esteemed position. It would be unwise for us to engage in a debate, especially considering the widespread acceptance of his definition among numerous physicists.

However, certain elements that are typically classified as non-metallic can actually conduct electricity under high pressure, even at temperatures significantly above absolute zero. Jupiter’s properties can be better understood by considering the presence of a conducting hydrogen sea surrounding its core.

Chemists use a diagram resembling a set of stairs to represent the arrangement of elements on the periodic table, with metals positioned on the left side and non-metals on the right side. Certain cases, such as arsenic and tellurium, are recognized as “metalloids,” highlighting the fact that nature is often more complex than we tend to believe.


The nucleus with the greatest mass
It’s difficult to determine which element has the heaviest nucleus. The isotope of Oganesson that has been synthesized contains 118 protons and a total of 294 nucleons. Meanwhile, tennessine is found in two isotopes, with one having 294 nucleons and the other having 293. If you had samples mixing all isotopes, ogannesson would be considered the heaviest metal due to the influence of the lighter isotope on tennessine’s average.

Based on the analysis of astronomers, both of these elements are classified as metals. Therefore, oganesson would likely be considered the winner, although you could also view it as a draw if you prefer.

To a chemist, tennessine is classified as a metal, whereas ogannesson is likely not. It is difficult to determine their properties precisely due to their extremely short half-lives. However, based on extrapolation, Tennessine is typically considered the heaviest metal, as it falls on the line that separates metals from non-metals. Indeed, ogannesson belongs to the noble gas column on the periodic table, and its members possess highly non-metallic characteristics.

According to physicists, the question becomes even more complex. It’s uncertain since the largest-nucleus elements have such short lifespans that testing their conductivity at room temperature or near absolute zero is practically impossible. (Please reach out to us if you truly wish to get in touch.)

What metal has the highest density?
As mentioned earlier, certain elements have a tendency to tightly hold onto their electrons, allowing their atoms to be densely packed. This results in a sample of these elements being heavier than an equivalent-sized sample of an element located further along the periodic table.

One issue is that the density of numerous elements remains unknown due to the limited production and short lifespan of these elements.

Resemblances in the crystal structure of certain synthetic elements and their counterparts on the periodic table have allowed for estimations of their density.

According to this, hassium and meitnerium have a density of 27–29 grams per cubic centimeter, which means they are significantly heavier than the same volume of water. It is anticipated that the elements with higher atomic numbers will generally have lower densities, and in certain cases, the difference can be quite significant. Once again, both of these elements are universally recognized as metals in the scientific community, so the ultimate answer lies between them.

There is a variation in sources among the elements we have measured. Iridium and osmium, which happen to be located right above hassium and meitnerium on the periodic table, are undoubtedly the top two elements in terms of density. Both have a density of approximately 22.6 g/cm3 at room temperature. However, there is some discrepancy in the measurements at the second decimal place, making it unclear which element is actually denser. However, it is evident that these two substances rank highest in this regard and are undoubtedly classified as metals.

Stay tuned for more updates
Everything is derived from the elements we are familiar with. Nevertheless, the periodic table has been growing steadily since its inception. We have successfully created over 20 elements that do not occur naturally since the 1940s, and it seems that our journey is far from over.

There is compelling evidence supporting the existence of an “island of stability” in which significantly heavier elements can endure for longer periods of time. All these elements will be classified as metals by astronomers, and they will most likely pass the criteria for chemists and physicists too.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

Space Exploration

Uranus’s radiation belt isn’t weak; it’s just crooked





Voyager 2 visited Uranus almost forty years ago, leaving behind some very interesting mysteries. Three planetary scientists believe they have shown that two of these problems—why its proton radiation belts are so weak and why its magnetic field isn’t centered—are linked, which could help solve one.

Magnetic fields have an impact on charged particles. For example, high-energy particles from space circle the Earth when the field is strong. The Van Allen Belts are made when particles from the solar wind interact with Earth’s magnetic field. People who don’t believe in the moon landing say that living things can’t cross these belts, which protect the atmosphere.

The belts around other planets with magnetic fields look like Uranus and Neptune’s, but their magnetic fields are different. It is tilted almost 60 degrees away from Uranus’s axis of rotation. The ones on Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, on the other hand, are much more aligned. Also, its center is not in the middle of the Earth; it’s about a third of the way to the south pole. Voyager 2 said that the radiation belt is not very strong, but the magnetic field is. Matthew Acevski, a PhD student at Imperial College London, and his coworkers say that’s partly because the field isn’t focused.

Acevski and his co-authors used the Boris algorithm, a way to figure out how charged particles move, to test how the asymmetrical magnetic field should change the behavior of protons that get caught in it. They learned that the uneven field makes the particles move at various speeds while they circle. Where protons move slowly, they gather together, and where they move quickly, they spread out.

“This is like how traffic jams happen on a ring road.” “When cars go slower, there is more traffic, and when they go faster, there is less traffic,” Acevski told

Because Voyager 2 didn’t go around Uranus but just looked at it as it went by, the authors thought that it might not be that the radiation belt is weak, but that our only visitor just happened to measure an area that wasn’t full.

The team did math to figure out where the protons would move faster and slower and came to the conclusion that Voyager 2 went through an area of depletion.

It’s important to note that the effect only works on protons. The asymmetry doesn’t change the paths of electrons very much because their masses are so much lower, which fits with Voyager 2’s report of a strong electron radiation belt.

The authors concur that their work does not adequately explain measurements as low as those from Voyager 2. They write, “It’s possible that this effect will become a bigger part of this deficiency if more complex system dynamics are added.”

If the planned Uranus orbiter is built, the part of the weakness that can’t be explained might be one of the easier mysteries to solve. But it’s not clear if this will happen while the Mars Sample Return takes up most of NASA’s exploration budget.

Neptune’s magnetic field is almost as crooked as Uranus’s, but Voyager found that its proton radiation belt was strong. It’s still not clear if this difference is real or just a result of the places Voyager 2 went.

The study is in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, which is open access.

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Space Exploration

We now know how much faster time moves on the moon





A new study has precisely figured out how fast time moves on the Moon compared to Earth and found the center of the solar system.

Different observers see time pass at different rates, depending on how fast they are moving compared to each other and how strong the gravitational fields are nearby. Most of the time, this doesn’t come up in your calculations. If you want to meet up with someone next Tuesday, it doesn’t matter if your clocks are a little off. That is, unless one of you spends the days in between flying around at relativistic speeds or on a planet or moon with very different gravity.

But this is a problem for NASA and other space agencies because people want to build bases on the Moon and Mars. At the moment, there is no agreed-upon time zone on the moon. For unmanned missions, the time is based on the country where the craft came from. For crewed Apollo missions, however, Ground Elapsed Time (GET) was used, starting from the moment of launch. As the moon fills up with more robots and then, fingers crossed, people, it could cause problems. The US hopes to solve these issues by setting up a coordinated lunar time.

As explained in the new paper posted to the pre-print server arXiv, “the establishment of a standardized lunar time is essential for synchronizing activities and operations on the Moon.” Other scientists have not yet reviewed the paper.

“When missions involve many landers, rovers, and orbiters, having a common time reference makes sure that all units can work together well, preventing problems and making it easier for people to work together.” Timing is very important for communication between missions on Earth and the moon because it allows for reliable data transmission and reception and makes sure that autonomous systems can work without any problems.

In the new paper, the team figured out how fast time moves on Earth, the Moon, and at the solar system’s barycenter, which is the center of mass for the whole system.

“Although relativistic time transformations between the Solar System Barycentric (SSB) coordinate reference frame and the surface of the Earth are familiar, an analogous transformation for the surface of the Moon has not been established,” the team says. “In particular, the constants that describe the behavior of the two time scales as time progresses are needed.”

According to what the team found, time moves 0.0000575 seconds faster on the moon’s surface than on Earth’s surface each day. For ease of math, it would take about 274 years, or 100,000 days, for someone on the Moon to age 5.75 seconds faster than someone on Earth.

That might not seem like a big deal, but if the difference isn’t taken into account, it could make it hard to do things on the moon.

Arati Prabhakar, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, told NASA and other agencies to work together to make the new Moon time system. “Failing to account for the discrepancy between a transmitter clock on Earth and how it is perceived by a receiver on the Moon will result in a ranging error,” he wrote. “Precision applications such as spacecraft docking or landing will require greater accuracy than current methods allow.”

Before coordinated lunar time is set up, there will be more talk and math, and we will have to wait to see what system NASA and the other space agencies come up with. NASA is already sure of one thing, though: the Moon will not have to deal with daylight savings time because its days are 29.5 Earth days long.

The paper has been put on the arXiv pre-print server.

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Space Exploration

Earth Smelling Like Rotten Eggs Is A Step Towards Smelling Cleaner Air





Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has been found in the atmosphere of HD 189733b, a nearby “hot Jupiter,” by the JWST. HD 189733b is already not a good place to live because it is twice as hot as Venus and probably doesn’t have a solid surface to land on. Now the smell of rotten eggs is another reason why it shouldn’t be lived on. Still, the result shows that our models of how planets form are getting better, which means we can now make accurate predictions.

The easiest planets to find are the ones that are big and orbit close to their stars. Astronomers thought the galaxy was full of “hot Jupiters” when they first started finding planets outside the Solar System. These were gas giants with masses as great as Jupiter’s or greater that were orbiting close enough to their star to be burned.

At 65 light-years away, HD 189733b is the nearest of these to transit in front of its star from our point of view. Therefore, it is the most important one to study further. It’s a really harsh world, with temperatures reaching about 920°C (1,700°F) and some of the fastest winds we know of. The JWST is interested in it because of the things that make it so inhospitable and how close it is. This makes it one of the easiest planets outside our own system to study.

In a study of its spectrum, Dr. Guangwei Fu of Johns Hopkins University referred to HD 189733b as “the benchmark planet for atmospheric characterization.”

The study collected light that had been filtered through HD 189733b’s atmosphere during transits. It shows that the JWST can find molecules that are present in relatively small amounts and supports astronomers’ models.

“A big molecule we didn’t know was hydrogen sulfide.” Fu said in a statement, “We thought it would be, and we know it’s on Jupiter, but we hadn’t really found it outside the Solar System.” “We’re not looking for life on this planet because it’s too hot, but finding hydrogen sulfide will help us find this molecule on other planets and learn more about how different kinds of planets form.”

Water, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide were also found in HD 189733b’s atmosphere, but these are likely to be much more common, and two of them had already been found with less powerful tools. On the other hand, methane levels as low as one part in 10 million were not found, which is different from what some reports said before. This also backs up models that say methane couldn’t live on a planet that hot.

The results not only show that hydrogen sulfide can be found, but they also make it more likely that sulfur is a common element on extrasolar planets. Fu said, “Sulfur is a vital element for building more complex molecules, and scientists need to study it more to fully understand how planets are made and what they’re made of, just like they need to study carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphate.” We may not like this particular sulfur compound, but Fu was right.

“Let’s say we look at 100 more hot Jupiters and find that they are all sulfur-rich.” That makes me wonder how they were born and how their shapes are different from Jupiter’s. Fu added. One hundred might be too much for the JWST to handle, but Fu is working on studying a few of them.

Along with being linked to rotten eggs, hydrogen sulfide is often found near volcanic vents, which is why brimstone, an old word for sulfur, is often thought of as hell.

The temperature of HD 189733b has been called 3,000°C (5,432°F) at times, but it’s really only 920°C (1,700°F), which is still pretty hot. Models also say that there will be winds of 8,700 km/h (5,400 mph) and rain made of glass.

The study was written up in Nature.

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