Some auroras can only be seen with a camera. They are called sub-visual and are too faint to be seen with the unaided eye. The reason is that the human eye only accumulates light for a fraction of a second at a time, while a camera shutter can be left open indefinitely. When photographing an already picturesque scene above Juneau, Alaska, USA, a camera caught green sub-visual aurora near the horizon. Auroras are sparked by energetic particles from the Sun impacting the magnetic environment around the Earth. Resultant energetic particles such as electrons and protons rain down near the Earth's poles and impact the air. The impacted air molecules temporarily lose electrons, and when oxygen molecules among them reacquire these electrons, they emit green light. Auroras are known to have many shapes and colors.But nevermind all that. Aurora's always make me think of Yukon Cornelius.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Photo copyright Lance McVay.
The M51 "Whirlpool Galaxy" shines as one of the brightest spiral galaxies in the night sky.
Several NASA space observatories combined to produce this composite image. The Chandra X-ray Observatory shows purple, point-like sources that indicate black holes and neutron stars in binary star systems, and also picks up on the glow of hot gas lighting the space between the stars. The Hubble Space Telescope provides optical data in green, while the Spitzer Space Telescope sees red infrared emissions — both reflect lanes of stars, gas, and dust in the galaxy's spiral arms. The Galaxy Evolution Explorer completes the image with views of hot, young stars giving off ultraviolet energy in blue.
The spiral shape may be a result of a galactic encounter when NGC 5195 passed through M51's main disk about 500 million years ago. That gravitational tug-of-war likely triggered a new round of starbirth, as gravitational forces condensed gas and jump-started the process of star formation.
Teh rings R as old as Simels. Who knew?
Saturn's rings older than first thought?
LOS ANGELES - Saturn's shimmering rings may be as old as the solar system, scientists said Wednesday, debunking earlier theories that the rings were formed during the dinosaur age.And they recycle! excellent.
Astronomers had thought Saturn's rings were cosmically young, likely born some 100 million years ago from leftovers of a meteoric collision with a moon, based on data by NASA's Voyager spacecraft in the 1970s.
However, new data from the orbiting international Cassini spacecraft suggest the rings existed as far back as 4.5 billion years ago, roughly the same time the sun and planets formed. The probe also found evidence that ring particles are constantly shattering and regrouping to form new rings.
"Recycling allows the rings to be as old as the solar system although continually changing," said Larry Esposito, a Cassini scientist from the University of Colorado.
Those wacky koreans.
This handout photo released in Seoul by the Ministry of Science and Technology shows a combo of cloned cats that have a fluorescence protein gene and glowing under ultraviolet beams. The technology could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, the developers said.Hat tip to Darryl Pearce.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Well, okay, it's a nebula, specifically the Fairy of Eagle Nebula:
The dust sculptures of the Eagle Nebula are evaporating. As powerful starlight whittles away these cool cosmic mountains, the statuesque pillars that remain might be imagined as mythical beasts. Pictured above is one of several striking dust pillars of the Eagle Nebula that might be described as a gigantic alien fairy. This fairy, however, is ten light years tall and spews radiation much hotter than common fire. The greater Eagle Nebula, M16, is actually a giant evaporating shell of gas and dust inside of which is a growing cavity filled with a spectacular stellar nursery currently forming an open cluster of stars. The above image in scientifically re-assigned colors was released as part of the fifteenth anniversary celebration of the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope.From the Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 9th.
I loves me some outerspace.