Scientists Discover Cosmic ‘Superhighways’ That Could Accelerate Long‑Distance Space Travel
What if we could travel impossibly long distances in outer space, distances that we thought would take hundreds of thousands of years to traverse, in a matter of mere decades? A new study out of the Belgrade Astronomical Observatory in Serbia charts the paths of cosmic “superhighways” that could accelerate the movement of objects through space, providing an opportunity for human space exploration to reach science fiction distances.
These “superhighways” — also called “celestial autobahns” or “celestial highways” — are formed as a result of different planets’ gravitational forces, mainly that of Jupiter, the largest, densest planet and therefore the one with the most gravitational force. Jupiter’s force creates space manifolds, within which a series of long arches or pathways make up a network of superhighways — some of which stretch all the way to Neptune. These superhighways use Jupiter’s gravitational force to speed up space objects travelling inside.
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The scientists identified space manifolds, and arches within them, created by seven major planets, ranging from Venus to Neptune. But more investigation is needed to figure out how humans can access these superhighways, and use them while avoiding collision with said planets.
The discovery of superhighways also provides more insight into near-Earth objects; now that scientists have a better understanding of just how fast objects can move in space, they’ll be better able to figure out the trajectories of asteroids or meteors on a collision course with Earth.
For now, the discovery provides exciting opportunities for space exploration, even if we don’t yet know the how of it.