Blurring the Line Between Reality and Star Wars

What you see here might look like an image from a Star Wars movie, but in fact it’s a picture of ESA’s ATV Johannes Kepler taken from the International Space Station!

via Universe Today

A Wild Cosmic Squirt Gun Appears

Wouldn’t want to be hit by this one though. It shoots its water bullets at 200,000 km/h (124,000 mph), and at a temperature of 100,000 degrees celsius (180,000 degrees fahrenheit).

Seven hundred and fifty light-years from Earth, a young, sunlike star has been found with jets that blast epic quantities of water into interstellar space, shooting out droplets that move faster than a speeding bullet.

The discovery suggests that protostars may be seeding the universe with water. These stellar embryos shoot jets of material from their north and south poles as their growth is fed by infalling dust that circles the bodies in vast disks.

“If we picture these jets as giant hoses and the water droplets as bullets, the amount shooting out equals a hundred million times the water flowing through the Amazon River every second,” said Lars Kristensen, a postdoctoral astronomer at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“We are talking about velocities reaching 200,000 kilometers [124,000 miles] per hour, which is about 80 times faster than bullets flying out of a machine gun,” said Kristensen, lead author of the new study detailing the discovery, which has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

What’s really exciting about the discovery is that it appears to be a stellar rite of passage, the researchers say, which may shed new light on the earliest stages of our own sun’s life—and how water fits into that picture.

“We are only now beginning to understand that sunlike stars probably all undergo a very energetic phase when they are young,” Kristensen said. “It’s at this point in their lives when they spew out a lot of high-velocity material—part of which we now know is water.”

Like a celestial sprinkler system, the star may be enriching the interstellar medium—thin gases that float in the voids between stars. And because the hydrogen and oxygen in water are key components of the dusty disks in which stars form, such protostar sprinklers may be encouraging the growth of further stars, the study says.

via National Geographic

Should We Teach Evolution in Schools?

Here’s a really, really crazy idea: We could teach it because evolution is a fact! Or perhaps we should keep kids away from stuff like general relativity and quantum mechanics as well. Who needs to understand how the world works beyond God’s divine will, anyway?

Please understand that a scientific theory isn’t “somebody’s imagination or hope or what not”.

“I think Science is a huge thing!” Yeah, me too.

We really need to stop mixing this stuff and politics.

via Alexis Ohanian

Firestorm of Star Birth in Centaurus A

From HubbleSite:

Resembling looming rain clouds on a stormy day, dark lanes of dust crisscross the giant elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. Hubble’s panchromatic vision, stretching from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths, reveals the vibrant glow of young, blue star clusters and a glimpse into regions normally obscured by the dust. This image was taken in July 2010 with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

The Great Carina Nebula


A jewel of the southern sky, the Great Carina Nebula, also known as NGC 3372, spans over 300 light-years, one of our galaxy’s largest star forming regions. Like the smaller, more northerly Great Orion Nebula, the Carina Nebula is easily visible to the unaided eye, though at a distance of 7,500 light-years it is some 5 times farther away. This gorgeous telescopic portrait reveals remarkable details of the region’s glowing filaments of interstellar gas and obscuring cosmic dust clouds. Wider than the Full Moon in angular size, the field of view stretches nearly 100 light-years across the nebula. The Carina Nebula is home to young, extremely massive stars, including the still enigmatic variable Eta Carinae, a star with well over 100 times the mass of the Sun. Eta Carinae is the brightest star at the left, near the dusty Keyhole Nebula (NGC 3324). While Eta Carinae itself maybe on the verge of a supernova explosion, X-ray images indicate that the Great Carina Nebula has been a veritable supernova factory.“

Credit: Robert Gendler (Processing), Ryan Hannahoe (Acquisition) Additional data from the ESO/Danish 1.5m telescope at La Silla, Chile (R.Gendler, J.-E.Ovaldsen, C.Thöne, C.Feron)