Holes in Mars and Beyond
What could this be? Everyone in physics learns about blackbody radiation. A blackbody absorbs all radiation falling upon it. It gives off radiation in a characteristic spectrum depending upon its temperature. Blackbody radiation convinced a conservative physicist named Max Planck to theorise that light is made up of quanta. The cosmic microwave background is radiation with temperature 2.7 K. It provides convincing evidence that the Universe began in a hotter denser state.
The most perfect blackbody would be a deep cavity. A perfect example may have been discovered by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This strange feature northeast of the volcano Arsia Mons is 100 meters across. It has been interpreted as a very deep hole or cavern entrance. The Mars Odyssey spacecraft has found 7 similiar features elsewhere on Mars. They can be located by their characteristic blackbody radiation.
These cavities don't look like meteor or volcanic craters. The closest Earth analog is the cenote of Chichen Itza. Cenotes in the Yucatan were formed by subsurface water, which began with the meteor that ended the age of dinoasurs. They lead to a vast underground river system and even contain skeletons! Sheltered from radiation and temperature extremes, the Martian holes could be abodes of life.
Elsewhere, astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea have discovered the most distant Black Hole yet found. This object in the constellation Pisces is estimated to be 13 billion light years away. It dates from less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang, and has the mass of 500 million Suns! Scientists are at a loss to explain how it grew so big so soon. As Stephen Hawking showed in the 1970's, Black Holes are not completely Black. They also give off blackbody radiation related to their temperature. Radiation from a central Black Hole would explain the heat source of many objects, including Earth.
As we saw just last week in Black Holes Beyond Imagination, wherever we look in the early Universe we find supermassive Black Holes. They are far too young to have formed from collpasing stars, and too big to have formed from mergers of smaller objects. Increasing evidence suggests that they are primordial, formed shortly after the Big Bang. Size of a primordial singularity is limited by a "horizon distance" of light travel. Supermassive primordial Black Holes are one more indication of a changing speed of light.
UPDATE: The ISDC edition of Carnival of Space is up!