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Keyword: astronomy

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6960: The Witch's Broom Nebula

    05/28/2013 9:16:27 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 29, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Ten thousand years ago, before the dawn of recorded human history, a new light would have suddenly have appeared in the night sky and faded after a few weeks. Today we know this light was from a supernova, or exploding star, and record the expanding debris cloud as the Veil Nebula, a supernova remnant. This sharp telescopic view is centered on a western segment of the Veil Nebula cataloged as NGC 6960 but less formally known as the Witch's Broom Nebula. Blasted out in the cataclysmic explosion, the interstellar shock wave plows through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Large Cloud of Magellan

    05/28/2013 10:51:23 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 28, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful, and annotated composite image. Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Bird Sun Dog

    05/26/2013 9:34:42 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | May 27, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen a little rainbow off to the side of the Sun? Rare but rewarding to see, such spectacles are known as sundogs, mock suns or parhelia. Sundogs are just sunlight refracting through hexagonal falling ice crystals in the Earth's atmosphere. When thin ice crystals flitter down nearly horizontally, they best refract sunlight sideways and create sundogs. Alternatively, randomly oriented ice crystals may create a complete circular sun halo. Sundogs occur 22 degrees to each side of a setting or rising Sun, although sometimes nearby clouds can block one or both. The above image was taken through...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- PanSTARRS Anti-Tail Grows

    05/25/2013 9:18:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | May 26, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: As planet Earth approached the plane of the Comet PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) orbit on May 23rd, comet watchers were treated to this view of its magnificent anti-tail. The long, narrow anti-tail stretches to the right across this frame for nearly 4 degrees or about 8 times the angular size of the full Moon. The tail trails along the comet's orbit as it leaves the inner solar system behind. An almost edge-on perspective from near the outbound comet's orbital plane enhances the view of the anti-tail and makes it seem to point in the sunward direction, only apparently contrary to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lunar Corona over Cochem Castle

    05/24/2013 9:08:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 25, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This bat-like apparition does not shine on clouds passing over Gotham city. Instead, the cloud bank in silhouette against a colorful lunar corona was spotted on the evening of May 18 over Cochem, Germany from the banks of the river Mossele. The lunar corona is formed as bright moonlight is diffracted by water droplets in thin clouds drifting in front of the lunar disk. Below it lies the region's historic Cochem Castle dating from the 11th century, and not Wayne Manor. Still, regardless of your location on planet Earth it is well worth scanning the evening skies this weekend,...
  • Dark, massive asteroid to fly by Earth on May 31

    05/24/2013 10:44:22 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 31 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 05-24-2013 | by Deborah Netburn
    It's 1.7 miles long. Its surface is covered in a sticky black substance similar to the gunk at the bottom of a barbecue. If it impacted Earth it would probably result in global extinction. Good thing it is just making a flyby. Asteroid 1998 QE2 will make its closest pass to Earth on May 31 at 1:59 p.m. PDT. Scientists are not sure where this unusually large space rock, which was discovered 15 years ago, originated. But the mysterious sooty substance on its surface could indicate it may be a result of a comet that flew too close to the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Caterpillar Moon

    05/24/2013 4:00:24 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | May 24, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A close series of consecutive exposures are combined in this intriguing composite of the Full Moon slowly crawling, across the sky. Beginning on the upper right at 19:42 UT and ending at 22:14 UT on April 25, the sequence follows the Moon from Germany as it passes through Earth's shadow in a partial lunar eclipse. Near the top, the Moon just grazes the southern edge of Earth's dark central shadow, or umbra. But the decreased brightness in the darker part of the outer shadow region, the penumbra, is also apparent on the lunar disk. In fact, the relative size...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier 109

    05/23/2013 3:51:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 23, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Beautiful barred spiral galaxy M109, 109th entry in Charles Messier's famous catalog of bright Nebulae and Star Clusters, is found just below the Big Dipper's bowl in the northern constellation Ursa Major. In telescopic views, its striking central bar gives the galaxy the appearance of the Greek letter "theta", θ, a common mathematical symbol representing an angle. Of course M109 spans a very small angle in planet Earth's sky, about 7 arcminutes or 0.12 degrees. But that small angle corresponds to an enormous 120,000 light-year diameter at the galaxy's estimated 60 million light-year distance. The brightest member of the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Red Sprite Lightning with Aurora

    05/22/2013 3:37:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | May 22, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that in the sky? It is a rarely seen form of lightning confirmed only about 25 years ago: a red sprite. Recent research has shown that following a powerful positive cloud-to-ground lightning strike, red sprites may start as 100-meter balls of ionized air that shoot down from about 80-km high at 10 percent the speed of light and are quickly followed by a group of upward streaking ionized balls. The above image, taken a few days ago above central South Dakota, USA, captured a bright red sprite, and is a candidate for the first color image ever recorded...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Red Rectangle Nebula from Hubble

    05/21/2013 3:39:45 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | May 21, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How was the unusual Red Rectangle nebula created? At the nebula's center is an aging binary star system that surely powers the nebula but does not, as yet, explain its colors. The unusual shape of the Red Rectangle is likely due to a thick dust torus which pinches the otherwise spherical outflow into tip-touching cone shapes. Because we view the torus edge-on, the boundary edges of the cone shapes seem to form an X. The distinct rungs suggest the outflow occurs in fits and starts. The unusual colors of the nebula are less well understood, however, and speculation holds...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Blue Sun Bursting

    05/20/2013 3:40:03 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | May 20, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Our Sun is not a giant blueberry. Our Sun can be made to appear similar to the diminutive fruit, however, by imaging it in a specific color of extreme violet light called CaK that is emitted by the very slight abundance of ionized Calcium in the Sun's atmosphere, and then false color-inverting the image. This solar depiction is actually scientifically illuminating as a level of the Sun's chromosphere appears quite prominent, showing a crackly textured surface, cool sunspots appearing distinctly bright, and surrounding hot active regions appearing distinctly dark. The Sun is currently near the maximum activity level in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earth's Richat Structure

    05/19/2013 6:05:54 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 26 replies
    NASA ^ | May 19, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What on Earth is that? The Richat Structure in the Sahara Desert of Mauritania is easily visible from space because it is nearly 50 kilometers across. Once thought to be an impact crater, the Richat Structure's flat middle and lack of shock-altered rock indicates otherwise. The possibility that the Richat Structure was formed by a volcanic eruption also seems improbable because of the lack of a dome of igneous or volcanic rock. Rather, the layered sedimentary rock of the Richat structure is now thought by many to have been caused by uplifted rock sculpted by erosion. The above image...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PanSTARRS Anti-Tail

    05/18/2013 6:07:35 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | May 18, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Once the famous sunset comet, PanSTARRS (C/2011 L4) is now visible all night from much of the northern hemisphere, bound for the outer solar system as it climbs high above the ecliptic plane. Dimmer and fading, the comet's broad dust tail is still growing, though. This widefield telescopic image was taken against the starry background of the constellation Cepheus on May 15. It shows the comet has developed an extensive anti-tail, dust trailing along the comet's orbit (to the left of the coma), stretching more than 3 degrees across the frame. Since the comet is just over 1.6 astronomical...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Waterfall and the World at Night

    05/17/2013 3:56:40 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 17, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Above this boreal landscape, the arc of the Milky Way and shimmering aurorae flow through the night. Like an echo, below them lies Iceland's spectacular Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods. Shining just below the Milky Way, bright Jupiter is included in the panoramic nightscape recorded on March 9. Faint and diffuse, the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) appears immersed in the auroral glow. The digital stitch of four frames is a first place winner in the 2013 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance organized by The World at Night. An evocative record of the beauty of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Four X-class Flares

    05/16/2013 3:40:20 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 16, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Swinging around the Sun's eastern limb on Monday, a group of sunspots labeled active region AR1748 has produced the first four X-class solar flares of 2013 in less than 48 hours. In time sequence clockwise from the top left, flashes from the four were captured in extreme ultraviolet images from the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Ranked according to their peak brightness in X-rays, X-class flares are the most powerful class and are frequently accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), massive clouds of high energy plasma launched into space. But CMEs from the first three flares were not Earth-directed, while one...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxy Collisions: Simulation vs Observations

    05/15/2013 4:07:29 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | May 14, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What happens when two galaxies collide? Although it may take over a billion years, such titanic clashes are quite common. Since galaxies are mostly empty space, no internal stars are likely to themselves collide. Rather the gravitation of each galaxy will distort or destroy the other galaxy, and the galaxies may eventually merge to form a single larger galaxy. Expansive gas and dust clouds collide and trigger waves of star formation that complete even during the interaction process. Pictured above is a computer simulation of two large spiral galaxies colliding, interspersed with real still images taken by the Hubble...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Kepler's Supernova Remnant in X-Rays

    05/15/2013 3:48:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | May 15, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What caused this mess? Some type of star exploded to create the unusually shaped nebula known as Kepler's supernova remnant, but which type? Light from the stellar explosion that created this energized cosmic cloud was first seen on planet Earth in October 1604, a mere four hundred years ago. The supernova produced a bright new star in early 17th century skies within the constellation Ophiuchus. It was studied by astronomer Johannes Kepler and his contemporaries, without the benefit of a telescope, as they searched for an explanation of the heavenly apparition. Armed with a modern understanding of stellar evolution,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Partial Solar Eclipse with Airplane

    05/13/2013 4:02:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | May 13, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was just eight minutes after sunrise, last week, and already there were four things in front of the Sun. The largest and most notable was Earth's Moon, obscuring a big chunk of the Sun's lower limb as it moved across the solar disk, as viewed from Fremantle, Australia. This was expected as the image was taken during a partial solar eclipse -- an eclipse that left sunlight streaming around all sides of the Moon from some locations. Next, a band of clouds divided the Sun horizontally while showing interesting internal structure vertically. The third intervening body might be...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Clouds, Birds, Moon, Venus

    05/12/2013 2:45:46 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 12, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sometimes the sky above can become quite a show. In early September of 2010, for example, the Moon and Venus converged, creating quite a sight by itself for sky enthusiasts around the globe. From some locations, though, the sky was even more picturesque. In the above image taken in Spain, a crescent Moon and the planet Venus, on the far right, were captured during sunset posing against a deep blue sky. In the foreground, dark storm clouds loom across the image bottom, while a white anvil cloud shape appears above. Black specks dot the frame, caused by a flock...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cape York Annular Eclipse

    05/11/2013 7:56:12 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | May 11, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This week the shadow of the New Moon fell on planet Earth, crossing Queensland's Cape York in northern Australia ... for the second time in six months. On the morning of May 10, the Moon's apparent size was too small to completely cover the Sun though, revealing a "ring of fire" along the central path of the annular solar eclipse. Near mid-eclipse from Coen, Australia, a webcast team captured this telescopic snapshot of the annular phase. Taken with a hydrogen-alpha filter, the dramatic image finds the Moon's silhouette just within the solar disk, and the limb of the active...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Messier 77

    05/10/2013 4:36:33 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | May 10, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Face-on spiral galaxy M77 lies a mere 47 million light-years away toward the aquatic constellation Cetus. At that estimated distance, the gorgeous island universe is about 100 thousand light-years across. Also known as NGC 1068, its compact and very bright core is well studied by astronomers exploring the mysteries of supermassive black holes in active Seyfert galaxies. M77 is also seen at x-ray, ultraviolet, infrared, and radio wavelengths. But this sharp visible light image based on Hubble data follows its winding spiral arms traced by obscuring dust clouds and red-tinted star forming regions close in to the galaxy's luminous...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ring of Fire over Monument Valley

    05/09/2013 3:35:13 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | May 09, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: As the New Moon continues this season's celestial shadow play, an annular solar eclipse track begins in western Australia at 22:30 UT on May 9 -- near sunrise on May 10 local time. Because the eclipse occurs within a few days of lunar apogee, the Moon's silhouette does not quite cover the Sun during mid-eclipse, momentarily creating a spectacular ring of fire. While a larger region witnesses a partial eclipse, the annular mid-eclipse phase is visible along a shadow track only about 200 kilometers wide but 13,000 kilometers long, extending across the central Pacific. For given locations along it,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Earth's Major Telescopes Investigate GRB 130427A

    05/08/2013 3:41:52 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | May 08, 2013 | (see photo credit)
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxy Cove Vista

    05/07/2013 3:42:05 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | May 07, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To see a vista like this takes patience, hiking, and a camera. Patience was needed in searching out just the right place and waiting for just the right time. A short hike was needed to reach this rugged perch above a secluded cove in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in California, USA. And a camera was needed for the long exposure required to bring out the faint light from stars and nebula in the background Milky Way galaxy. Moonlight and a brief artificial flash illuminated the hidden beach and inlet behind nearby trees in the above composite image taken...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Tails of Comet Lemmon

    05/06/2013 4:04:21 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | May 06, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What caused the interestingly intricate tails that Comet Lemmon displayed earlier this year? First of all, just about every comet that nears the Sun displays two tails: a dust tail and an ion tail. Comet Lemmon's dust tail, visible above and around the comet nucleus in off-white, is produced by sun-light reflecting dust shed by the comet's heated nucleus. Flowing and more sculptured, however, is C/2012 F6 (Lemmon)'s blue ion tail, created by the solar wind pushing ions expelled by the nucleus away from the Sun. Also of note is the coma seen surrounding Comet Lemmon's nucleus, tinted green...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Supercell Thunderstorm Cloud Over Montana

    05/05/2013 6:41:51 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 05, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is that a spaceship or a cloud? Although it may seem like an alien mothership, it's actually a impressive thunderstorm cloud called a supercell. Such colossal storm systems center on mesocyclones -- rotating updrafts that can span several kilometers and deliver torrential rain and high winds including tornadoes. Jagged sculptured clouds adorn the supercell's edge, while wind swept dust and rain dominate the center. A tree waits patiently in the foreground. The above supercell cloud was photographed in July west of Glasgow, Montana, USA, caused minor damage, and lasted several hours before moving on.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hungarian Spring Eclipse

    05/03/2013 10:21:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | May 04, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Last week, as the Sun set a Full Moon rose over the springtime landscape of Tihany, Hungary on the northern shores of Lake Balaton. As it climbed into the clear sky, the Moon just grazed the dark, umbral shadow of planet Earth in the year's first partial lunar eclipse. The partial phase, seen near the top of this frame where the lunar disk is darkened along the upper limb, lasted for less than 27 minutes. Composited from consecutive exposures, the picture presents the scene's range of natural colors and subtle shading apparent to the eye. At next week's New...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Horsehead: A Wider View

    05/02/2013 9:12:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | May 03, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Combined image data from the massive, ground-based VISTA telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope was used to create this wide perspective of the interstellar landscape surrounding the famous Horsehead Nebula. Captured at near-infrared wavelengths, the region's dusty molecular cloud sprawls across the scene that covers an angle about two-thirds the size of the Full Moon on the sky. Left to right the frame spans just over 10 light-years at the Horsehead's estimated distance of 1,600 light-years. Also known as Barnard 33, the still recognizable Horsehead Nebula stands at the upper right, the near-infrared glow of a dusty pillar topped...
  • The Rose: Spinning Vortex of Saturn Polar Storm

    05/02/2013 7:44:45 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    Scientific Computing ^ | Tuesday, April 30, 2013 | unattributed
  • Stunning New Photo from the Space Station: The Moon Ushers in Dawn

    05/01/2013 6:45:38 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 22 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | May 1, 2013 | Nancy Atkinson on
    During his evening ritual of sharing images taken from the International Space Station, Commander Chris Hadfield posted this gem: a gorgeous night-time view of the southeastern United States, with the Moon hovering over Earth’s limb and the terminator separating night from day. Dawn is just beginning to break to the east, as the ISS flies overhead. This image reflects the ‘wistful’ feelings Hadfield is having as his time in space in coming to a close. He and his two crewmates Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko will head back to Earth on May 13. During a recent linkup with students, Hadfield...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Omega Centauri: The Brightest Globular Cluster

    05/01/2013 3:47:21 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | May 01, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This huge ball of stars predates our Sun. Long before humankind evolved, before dinosaurs roamed, and even before our Earth existed, ancient globs of stars condensed and orbited a young Milky Way Galaxy. Of the 200 or so globular clusters that survive today, Omega Centauri is the largest, containing over ten million stars. Omega Centauri is also the brightest globular cluster, at apparent visual magnitude 3.9 it is visible to southern observers with the unaided eye. Cataloged as NGC 5139, Omega Centauri is about 18,000 light-years away and 150 light-years in diameter. Unlike many other globular clusters, the stars...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Humanity Explores the Solar System

    04/30/2013 5:10:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | April 30, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What spacecraft is humanity currently using to explore our Solar System? Presently, every inner planet has at least one robotic explorer, while several others are monitoring our Sun, some are mapping Earth's Moon, a few are chasing asteroids and comets, one is orbiting Saturn, and several are even heading out into deep space. The above illustration gives more details, with the inner Solar System depicted on the upper right and the outer Solar System on the lower left. Given the present armada, our current epoch might become known as the time when humanity first probed its own star system....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way and Stone Tree

    04/29/2013 7:22:49 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | April 29, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that next to the Milky Way? An unusual natural rock formation known as Roque Cinchado or Stone Tree found on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. A famous icon, Roque Cinchado is likely a dense plug of cooled volcanic magma that remains after softer surrounding rock eroded away. Majestically, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy is visible arcing across the right of the above seven image panoramic mosaic taken during the summer of 2010. On the far right is the Teide volcano complete with a lenticular cloud hovering near its peak.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Raging Storm System on Saturn

    04/28/2013 9:10:21 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | April 28, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was one of the largest and longest lived storms ever recorded in our Solar System. † First seen in late 2010, the above cloud formation in the northern hemisphere of Saturn started larger than the Earth and soon spread completely around the planet. The storm was tracked not only from Earth but from up close by the robotic Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn. Pictured above in false colored infrared in February, orange colors indicate clouds deep in the atmosphere, while light colors highlight clouds higher up. The rings of Saturn are seen nearly edge-on as the thin blue...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sharp Stereo [3D on Mars]

    04/27/2013 7:56:31 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 27, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and gaze across the floor of Gale crater on Mars. From your vantage point on the deck of the Curiosity Rover Mount Sharp, the crater's 5 kilometer high central mountain looms over the southern horizon. Poised in the foreground is the rover's robotic arm with tool turret extended toward the flat veined patch of martian surface dubbed "John Klein". A complete version of the stereo view spans 360 degrees, digitally stitched together from the rover's left and right navigation camera frames taken in late January. The layered lower slopes of Mount Sharp, formally known...
  • CURSE you, EINSTEIN! Humanity still chained in relativistic PRISON

    04/26/2013 10:05:36 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 15 replies
    www.theregister.co.uk ^ | 04-26-2013 | By Lewis Page
    'Collapsar jump' from Forever War seemingly not on cards Disappointing news on the science wires today, as new research indicates that a possible means of subverting the laws of physics to allow interstellar travel apparently doesn't work. As we are told in a new paper just published in hefty boffinry mag Science: Neutron stars with masses above 1.8 solar masses possess extreme gravitational fields, which may give rise to phenomena outside general relativity. That would be quite handy, as one of the rules of general relativity is that nothing can travel faster than light: which means that journeys between the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Year on the Sun

    04/25/2013 9:46:20 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | April 26, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Our solar system's miasma of incandescent plasma, the Sun may look a little scary here. The picture is a composite of 25 images recorded in extreme ultraviolet light by the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory between April 16, 2012 and April 15, 2013. The particular wavelength of light, 171 angstroms, shows emission from highly ionized iron atoms in the solar corona at a characteristic temperatures of about 600,000 kelvins (about 1 million degrees F). Girdling both sides of the equator during the approach to maximum in its 11-year solar cycle, the solar active regions are laced with bright loops and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lunar Eclipses

    04/25/2013 3:45:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | April 25, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The dark, inner shadow of planet Earth is called the umbra. Shaped like a cone extending into space, it has a circular cross section and is most easily seen during a lunar eclipse. But the complete cross section is larger than the Moon's angular size in the stages of an eclipse. Still, this thoughtful composite illustrates the full extent of the circular shadow by utilizing images from both partial and total eclipses passing through different parts of the umbra. The images span the years 1997 to 2011, diligently captured with the same optics, from Voronezh, Russia. Along the bottom...
  • Science & the Virgin of Guadalupe [Catholic Caucus]

    12/12/2011 4:21:55 PM PST · by Salvation · 22 replies · 1+ views
    CatholicArtwork ^ | not given | Audra Fernando Garcia
    Science & the Virgin of Guadalupe Read what science has discovered about the tilma of the Virgin of Guadalupe Download a high-resolution image of the Our Lady of Guadalupe here 1. Ophthalmic studies made on the eyes of Mary detected that when the eye is exposed to light, the retina contracts, and when the light is withdrawn, it returns to a dilated state, just as happens with a living eye. 2. The temperature of Juan Diego’s tilma, made of a material that comes from fibers of the maguey cactus, maintains a constant temperature of 98.6 degrees, the same as that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Wringing a Wet Towel in Orbit

    04/24/2013 3:38:50 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | April 24, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What happens if you wring out a wet towel while floating in space? The water shouldn't fall toward the floor because while orbiting the Earth, free falling objects will appear to float. But will the water fly out from the towel, or what? The answer may surprise you. To find out and to further exhibit how strange being in orbit can be, Expedition 35 Commander Chris Hadfield did just this experiment last week in the microgravity of the Earth orbiting International Space Station. As demonstrated in the above video, although a few drops do go flying off, most of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- X-rays from Supernova Remnant SN 1006

    04/23/2013 3:44:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | April 23, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What looks like a puff-ball is surely the remains of the brightest supernova in recorded human history. In 1006 AD, it was recorded as lighting up the nighttime skies above areas now known as China, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Japan, and Switzerland. The expanding debris cloud from the stellar explosion, found in the southerly constellation the Wolf (Lupus), still puts on a cosmic light show across the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, the above image results from three colors of X-rays taken by the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. Now known as the SN 1006 supernova remnant, the debris cloud appears to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Horsehead Nebula in Infrared from Hubble

    04/22/2013 6:15:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | April 22, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: While drifting through the cosmos, a magnificent interstellar dust cloud became sculpted by stellar winds and radiation to assume a recognizable shape. Fittingly named the Horsehead Nebula, it is embedded in the vast and complex Orion Nebula (M42). A potentially rewarding but difficult object to view personally with a small telescope, the above gorgeously detailed image was recently taken in infrared light by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope in honor of the 23rd anniversary of Hubble's launch. The dark molecular cloud, roughly 1,500 light years distant, is cataloged as Barnard 33 and is seen above primarily because it is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Big Dipper

    04/21/2013 8:08:20 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | April 21, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Do you see it? This common question frequently precedes the rediscovery of one of the most commonly recognized configurations of stars on the northern sky: the Big Dipper. This grouping of stars is one of the few things that has likely been seen, and will be seen, by every generation. The Big Dipper is not by itself a constellation. Although part of the constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major), the Big Dipper is an asterism that has been known by different names to different societies. Five of the Big Dipper stars are actually near each other in space...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Airglow, Gegenschein, and Milky Way

    04/20/2013 4:26:09 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | April 20, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: As far as the eye could see, it was a dark night at Las Campanas Observatory in the southern Atacama desert of Chile. But near local midnight on April 11, this mosaic of 3 minute long exposures revealed a green, unusually intense, atmospheric airglow stretching over thin clouds. Unlike aurorae powered by collisions with energetic charged particles and seen at high latitudes, the airglow is due to chemiluminescence, the production of light in a chemical reaction, and found around the globe. The chemical energy is provided by the Sun's extreme ultraviolet radiation. Like aurorae, the greenish hue of this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 1788 and the Witch's Whiskers

    04/19/2013 3:41:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | April 19, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This skyscape finds an esthetic balance of interstellar dust and gas residing in the suburbs of the nebula rich constellation of Orion. Reflecting the light of bright star Rigel, Beta Orionis, the jutting, bluish chin of the Witch Head Nebula is at the upper left. Whiskers tracing the red glow of hydrogen gas ionized by ultraviolet starlight seem to connect that infamous visage with smaller nebulae, like dusty reflection nebula NGC 1788 at the right. Strong winds from Orion's bright stars have also shaped NGC 1788, and likely triggered the formation of the young stars within. Appropriate for its...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Factory Messier 17

    04/18/2013 4:02:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | April 18, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, the star factory known as Messier 17 lies some 5,500 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this degree wide field of view spans almost 100 light-years. The sharp, composite, color image utilizing data from space and ground based telescopes, follows faint details of the region's gas and dust clouds against a backdrop of central Milky Way stars. Stellar winds and energetic light from hot, massive stars formed from M17's stock of cosmic gas and dust have slowly carved away at the remaining interstellar material producing the cavernous appearance and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Mt. Hood and a Lenticular Cloud

    04/17/2013 5:13:33 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | April 17, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What kind of cloud is next to that mountain? A lenticular. This type of cloud forms in air that passes over a mountain, rises up again, and cools past the dew point -- so what molecular water carried in the air condenses into droplets. The layered nature of some lenticular clouds may make them appear, to some, as large alien spaceships. In this case, the mountain pictured is Mt. Hood located in Oregon, USA. Lenticular clouds can only form when conditions are right -- for example this is first time this astrophotographer has seen a lenticular cloud at night...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Grand Spiral Galaxy M81 and Arp's Loop

    04/16/2013 4:00:17 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | April 16, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: One of the brightest galaxies in planet Earth's sky is similar in size to our Milky Way Galaxy: big, beautiful M81. This grand spiral galaxy lies 11.8 million light-years away toward the northern constellation of the Great Bear (Ursa Major). The deep image of the region reveals details in the bright yellow core, but at the same time follows fainter features along the galaxy's gorgeous blue spiral arms and sweeping dust lanes. It also follows the expansive, arcing feature, known as Arp's loop, that seems to rise from the galaxy's disk at the upper right. Studied in the 1960s,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 1848: The Soul Nebula

    04/15/2013 6:14:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | April 15, 2013 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars are forming in the Soul of the Queen of Aethopia. More specifically, a large star forming region called the Soul Nebula can be found in the direction of the constellation Cassiopeia, who Greek mythology credits as the vain wife of a King who long ago ruled lands surrounding the upper Nile river. The Soul Nebula houses several open clusters of stars, a large radio source known as W5, and huge evacuated bubbles formed by the winds of young massive stars. Located about 6,500 light years away, the Soul Nebula spans about 100 light years and is usually imaged...
  • Construction of world's largest optical telescope approved

    04/14/2013 8:36:59 PM PDT · by Jyotishi · 40 replies
    CNET ^ | Sunday, April 14, 2013 | Tim Hornyak
    The massive Thirty Meter Telescope will be able to image objects 13 billion light years away, near the beginning of time. Set atop Mauna Kea, the Thirty Meter Telescope will be able to observe planets outside our solar system. (Credit: Courtesy TMT Observatory Corporation) If you love eye-popping images of space, here's welcome news: the Hawaiian Board of Land and Natural Resources has backed building what's to be the world's largest, most powerful optical telescope above the clouds atop the volcano Mauna Kea. The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will have a primary mirror of 492 segments measuring some 100 feet...