Tag Archives: universe

Pillars of Creation: Womb of Stars

NASA has released an image this week to commemorate the Hubble Space Telescope’s 100,000 orbit. This nebula, imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope on August 10, is about 170,000 light-years away.

“The image reveals dramatic ridges and valleys of dust, serpent-head ‘pillars of creation,’ and gaseous filaments glowing fiercely under torrential ultraviolet radiation. The region is on the edge of a dark molecular cloud that is an incubator for the birth of new stars. The high-energy radiation blazing out from clusters of hot young stars is sculpting the wall of the nebula by slowly eroding it away. Another young cluster may be hidden beneath a circle of brilliant blue gas. In this approximately 100-light-year-wide fantasy-like landscape, dark towers of dust rise above a glowing wall of gases on the surface of the molecular cloud. The seahorse-shaped pillar at lower, right is approximately 20 light-years long, roughly four times the distance between our sun and the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. The region is in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite of our Milky Way galaxy. It is a fascinating laboratory for observing star-formation regions and their evolution. Dwarf galaxies like the Large Magellanic Cloud are considered to be the primitive building blocks of larger galaxies.”

You might also want to check out the The First Universe of Galaxies Map.


Mars Soil for Asparagus but not Strawberries

NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander discovered that a sample of Martian dirt contained several soluble minerals, including potassium, magnesium and chloride. This means the soil in Mars may have enough nutrients to grow plants. Asparagus would grow happily in it, scientists say.

BBC reports: “We basically have found what appears to be the requirements for nutrients to support life,” said Phoenix’s wet chemistry lab lead, Sam Kounaves of Tufts University. “This is the type of soil you’d probably have in your backyard. You might be able to grow asparagus pretty well, but probably not strawberries.”

The First Universe of Galaxies Map

Remember the spacecraft GALEX (which means Galaxy Evolution Explorer) that was sent to space with the mission of observing galaxies in ultraviolet light across 10 billion years of cosmic history through an incorporated telescope on April 28th of 2003? It’s now officially been traveling the space and sending information back to Earth for five years.

“GALEX’s ultraviolet observations are telling the scientists how galaxies, the building block of our Universe, evolve and change. GALEX observations are providing data for NASA’s investigators to find out when and how the stars that we see today were formed and which chemical elements are the galaxies made off.”

Now GALEX has already observed more than 100 million galaxies. The first comprehensive map of the Universe of galaxies is now ready for construction, helping us understand how galaxies like our own Milky Way were formed.

“In effect, GALEX acts like a time machine through which humans see the universe as it was a few billion years after its birth because it observes places so far away that the light reaching GALEX, even traveling at 299.792.458 meters per second is still the same as billions of years before.”

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