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Posts Tagged "stars"

@ScientificAmerican

The Evolution of a Scientific American Information Graphic: Stellar Life Cycle

The evolution of a Scientific American information graphic: stellar life cycle

As the art director of information graphics at Scientific American, I’m charged with developing explanatory art for some pretty mind-blowing topics. Our team—text editor, expert author, artist, and me—often works toward illustrating a process or concept that has never been rendered before, or may have only been visualized for other specialists in the field in [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Getting Ready for Scientific American Tweet-Up at the American Museum of Natural History

We’re counting down the days here until the Scientific American tweet-up at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday, January 18, starting at 6 p.m. Full details are on my earlier blog post. We’ll enjoy talks, a tour of the “Beyond Planet Earth” exhibition–and some conversations over cocktails. Attendance is free for followers of [...]

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@ScientificAmerican

Scientific American Tweet-Up at the American Museum of Natural History

You say you’d love a fun science evening? Great, here’s your chance. Scientific American will be co-hosting a tweet-up and reception in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History the evening of Wednesday, January 18. While we expand our minds, we’ll enjoy some cocktails and open access to the Beyond Planet Earth exhibit. Attendance [...]

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Basic Space

How Henrietta Leavitt started building a cosmic ladder

Spiral galaxy NGC 4921 as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. The image {link url="http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/image_feature_1748.html"}was used to identify Cepheid variable stars{/link}. Credit: NASA/ESA/K. Cook (LLNL)

Today is Ada Lovelace day, which is all about celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. I want to use it as an excuse to highlight the work of Henrietta Leavitt. Leavitt was a pioneering woman astronomer at a time when women were mainly employed in observatories to be nothing more [...]

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Basic Space

How most of the universe was lost

When Brian Schmidt got his PhD in astrophysics in 1993, he was one of less than a handful of people that year that graduated with a thesis on supernovae. Five years later, still working on exploding stars, he would be part of one of two teams that independently discovered that the universe was not only [...]

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Basic Space

Twinkle twinkle globular star cluster

Messier 107, taken by Hubble. Credit: NASA/ESA

The Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 took this picture of a cluster of ancient stars in the Milky Way, known as Messier 107. It is a globular cluster that is eighty light years across and about 20,000 light years from the solar system. Globular clusters contain hundreds of thousands of stars held together [...]

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Basic Space

One billion stars (and a huge amount of data)

The above picture, zoomed in even more on the star forming region. There are still over ten thousand stars in this picture. Click for a bigger version. Credit:  Mike Read (WFAU), UKIDSS/GPS and VVV

To say a picture is worth a thousand words would be selling this one rather short. This edge-on image of the Milky Way contains at least a billion stars. The full version is available here. But be warned: it’s 39,300 by 3,750 pixels. My laptop was not at all happy when I tried to download it, [...]

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Basic Space

Red Giant Core Spins Ten Times Faster Than Its Surface

Size of the Sun now compared to how big it will expand to as a red giant. Credit: Wikipedia {link url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mysid"}User:Mysid{/link}, {link url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Mrsanitazier"}User:Mrsanitazier{/link}.

Astronomers have found that the core of a red giant, the type of star that our Sun will eventually become, spins ten times as fast as its surface. And it happens because of a phenomenon we can see here on Earth, too. You have probably seen a figure skater perform a so-called ‘scratch spin’, where [...]

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Basic Space

How Brain Scans Can Help Astronomers Understand Stars

A false color image of Cassiopeia A using observations from both the Hubble and Spitzer telescopes, and Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit: {link url="http://www.spitzer.caltech.edu/images/1445-ssc2005-14c-Cassiopeia-A-Death-Becomes-Her"}NASA/JPL-Caltech{/link}

They may come from completely different fields of study, but brain scans and supernovae have more in common than you would think. In a new TED talk, Michelle Borkin explains how software developed for use in a hospital was able to help astronomers study the structure of supernovae. An astronomer colleague of Borkin’s at the [...]

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Basic Space

Massive Stars Create ‘Cocoon’ of Cosmic Rays

Cygnus X is a star forming region in the constellation Cygnus in the night sky. It looks rather pretty in visible light, as shown at the beginning of the video below. But in radio, infrared and gamma ray wavelengths, Cygnus X really comes to life. Recent Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT) observations have shown that [...]

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Basic Space

Blue stragglers formed by engulfing red giants

Open star cluster NGC 188 in the constellation Cepheus. Credit: {link url="http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utente:Roberto_Mura"}Roberto Mura{\link}

Unusual stars known as blue stragglers have been causing trouble for astronomers since they were first seen in 1953: they are hotter and brighter than they should be, and much younger too. Now, they are causing mischief again for astronomers that are trying to work out where they come from. When astronomers observe stars from [...]

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Basic Space

Light from starburst galaxies makes the best cosmic disinfectant

NGC 5253, the dwarf starburst galaxy studied by Jordan Zastrow and her colleagues. Credit: {link url="http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso0434/"}ESO{/link)

If you’re reading this at night, look outside. Even in a city you’ll be able to see a few stars, if it’s not too cloudy and your eyes are up to it. If you’re lucky, the view from your window or garden will include a whole host of stars. Either way, you will be looking [...]

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Basic Space

An impossible star?

In the beginning, the only elements that existed were hydrogen, helium and very small amounts of lithium. All of the other elements in the period table came later and, rather than forming out of the primordial soup of sub-atomic particles that existed shortly after the big bang, the elements from lithium up to and including [...]

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Culturing Science

Breathtaking time-lapse video makes me question Copernicus

uncage2

The earth revolves around the sun. It’s a true fact, and no conspiracy. Even with such enlightenment, it’s nice to be reminded of why people once thought the opposite — that the universe revolves around the earth — to briefly knock us off our ivory tower of knowledge and be reminded of just how far [...]

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Guest Blog

The Potential of LSD, Heroin, Marijuana and Other Controlled Substances in Brain Research

no drugs sign

Imagine being an astronomer in a world where the telescope was banned. This effectively happened in the 1600s when, for over 100 years, the Catholic Church prohibited access to knowledge of the heavens in a vain attempt to stop scientists proving that the earth was not the center of the universe.  ‘Surely similar censorship could [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Lonely Planets: Hot Jupiters Are Isolated

Lonely Planets of the Cosmos

Hot Jupiters are special beasts in the exoplanetary menagerie. These giant worlds orbit their parent stars incredibly tightly, sometimes zipping around in barely a day or two, and so close that they can disturb the stellar atmosphere itself – as well as throwing themselves at the mercy of gravitational tides and scorching radiation. They were [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Stars Eat Planets

Caution! Do not cross this line... (NASA/ESA, G. Bacon STScI)

“What a deep voice you have,” said the little girl in surprise. “The better to greet you with,” said the wolf. “Goodness, what big eyes you have.” “The better to see you with.” “And what big hands you have!” exclaimed Little Red Riding Hood, stepping over to the bed. “The better to hug you with,” [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Gravitational Mesolensing And The Hunt For Exoplanets

It's full of lenses...

When astronomers talk about methods for finding exoplanets the list is relatively short. There is the radial velocity, or ‘wobble’ technique, which senses the motion of a star around a common center-of-mass with its planets. There is the transit technique, employed with great success by NASA’s Kepler mission, and there are direct imaging and phase-photometry [...]

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Life, Unbounded

Nomadic Planets May Make Pit Stops

crop_rogue

The notion of what constitutes a typical planetary system has undergone some serious revision in the past twenty years. Our own solar system, once seen as a timeless and almost mechanical entity, is now known to be on the margins of chaos. Long term modeling of its dynamical evolution suggests that orbits of an inner [...]

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MIND Guest Blog

Creativity, Madness and Drugs

San Diego—Would we have Poe’s Raven today if the tormented author had taken lithium to suppress his bipolar illness? Not likely, considering the high frequency of psychiatric illnesses among writers and artists, concluded psychiatrist Kay Jamison of Johns Hopkins Medical School speaking last week at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego. Madness [...]

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Observations

Dung Beetles Follow the Stars

dung beetle milky way stars orient straight path

The humble dung beetle makes its living rolling big balls of excrement to feed its offspring and itself. But this lowly occupation doesn’t mean the insect doesn’t have its eye on the skies—even when the sun goes down. Recent research has shown that African ball-rolling dung beetles (Scarabaeus satyrus) use strong light cues from the [...]

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Observations

Astronomers Spot Most Distant Supernova Yet

most distant supernova, SLSNe

A superluminous supernova may sound like a designation dreamed up by someone with a penchant for hyperbole, but such explosions are deserving of the extravagant language. They are very big blasts—and two newfound examples originated in the very distant past. Astronomers using two telescopes atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii have discovered a pair of supernovae [...]

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PsiVid

The City Dark

CityDark

I was recently in Alaska as an invitee of GoPro cameras in support of a pretty cool science experiment by Project Aether. Briefly, I was there to assist as they launched weather balloons with GoPro cameras attached in order to collect intra-auroral images. After the weather balloons dropped, the GPS tagged cameras were then retrieved, [...]

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PsiVid

Stephen Colbert Interviews Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Stephen Colbert is a smart science fan and often features great science book authors and scientists on his show, The Colbert Report. I also appreciate his funny takes on scientific topics such as tissue engineered meat, the LHC and more! Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson has appeared on The Colbert Report six times. What a boon [...]

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SA Visual

The Evolution of a Scientific American Information Graphic: Stellar Life Cycle

The evolution of a Scientific American information graphic: stellar life cycle

As the art director of information graphics at Scientific American, I’m charged with developing explanatory art for some pretty mind-blowing topics. Our team—text editor, expert author, artist, and me—often works toward illustrating a process or concept that has never been rendered before, or may have only been visualized for other specialists in the field in [...]

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Symbiartic

Stellar Photography By A Citizen Astronomer

13-038FEATURE

By now you might be used to spectacular images of celestial bodies thanks to organizations like NASA and the ESA. But it’s still possible to be wowed by these images, especially when they’re taken by people like you and me. Citizen astronomer Alan Friedman takes breathtaking photographs of the sun’s roiling surface from his backyard [...]

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The Countdown

“Singing Stars” Reveal Their Secrets, and More – The Countdown, Episode 29

Plasma erupts from the sun in the shape of a massive handle. (Credit: NASA)

More to explore: Curiosity Catches Sight of Mars’ Moon Passing the Other (PsiVid) Latest SpaceX Rocket Test Successfully Goes Sideways (New York Times) Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites: Reaching Out for Worldwide Recognitionwith the Help of the IAU [Pdf] (IAU) Around the World in Four Days: NASA Tracks Chelyabinsk Meteor Plume (NASA) Russian [...]

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