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Plasma Jets from Radio Galaxy Hercules A
Why does this galaxy emit such spectacular jets? No one is sure, but it is likely related to an active supermassive black hole at its center. The galaxy at the image center, Hercules A, appears to be a relatively normal elliptical galaxy in visible light. When imaged in radio waves, however, tremendous plasma jets over one million light years long appear. Detailed analyses indicate that the central galaxy, also known as 3C 348, is actually over 1,000 times more massive than our Milky Way Galaxy, and the central black hole is nearly 1,000 times more massive than the black hole at our Milky Way’s center. Pictured above is a visible light image obtained by the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope superposed with a radio image taken by the recently upgraded Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes in New Mexico, USA. The physics that creates the jets remains a topic of research with a likely energy source being infalling matter swirling toward the central black hole.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Baum & C. O’Dea (RIT), R. Perley and W. Cotton (NRAO/AUI/NSF),
and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Melting aluminum with an electromagnet.

Melting aluminum with an electromagnet.

(Source: fencehopping)


First Asteroid With Rings Discovered (like how cool is that?!)

Until now it seemed that only giant planets had the gravity to hold on to the billions of bits of orbiting ice and dust that make up a ring, but in a paper published today in Nature, astronomers report the discovery of two icy rings around a small object named Chariklo that orbits between Saturn and Uranus.

The discovery was made possible by observations at many sites in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory. The origin of these rings remains a mystery, but they may be the result of a collision that created a disc of debris.

"This probably will be the biggest discovery of my career," says Felipe Braga-Ribas of the National Observatory in Brazil, who led the team that found the rings, and who received his Ph.D. just last year.

Sources: 1, 2
Illustration by Lucie Maquet

Our Cosmic Address

(Source: crayjoy)

Materiales para Marte

Avanzados materiales textiles podrían ser la clave para hacer las misiones humanas a Marte una realidad. Los exploradores humanos en Marte podrían jugar un rol importante en la búsqueda de signos de vida pasada o presente en el Planeta Rojo.

Muchos científicos esperan que algún día los humanos se unan con los robots en la exploración a Marte, resolviendo así, preguntas que rodean acerca de la potencial vida en el Planeta Rojo. Crédito: ESA.

¿Qué haría falta para hacer realidad una misión tripulada a Marte? Un equipo de estudiantes de Ingeniería aeroespacial y textil de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte cree que parte de la solución pudiera estar en avanzados materiales textiles. Los estudiantes unieron fuerzas para hacer frente a los desafíos contra los que la industria aeroespacial ha venido luchando por décadas.

Seguir leyendo.


Phytoplankton are the foundation of the oceanic food chain.

Phytoplankton are photosynthesizing microscopic organisms that inhabit the upper sunlit layer of almost all oceans and bodies of fresh water. They are agents for “primary production,” the creation of organic compounds from carbon dioxide dissolved in the water, a process that sustains the aquatic food web.

Phytoplankton account for half of all photosynthetic activity on Earth. Thus phytoplankton are responsible for much of the oxygen present in the Earth’s  atmosphere – half of the total amount produced by all plant life.


Apollo 17 Mission (1972)


In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, Cosmonaut Aleksey A. Leonov (left) and astronaut Thomas P. Stafford take part in Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) joint crew training at the Cosmonaut Training Center (Star City) near Moscow. They are inside a Soviet Soyuz orbital module trainer on April 25, 1975.

The two men were the commanders of their respective ASTP prime crews. ASTP was a cooperative space mission between the United States and the USSR. The goals of ASTP were to test the ability of American and Soviet spacecraft to rendezvous and dock in space and to open the doors to possible international rescue missions and future collaboration on manned spaceflights.

The Soyuz and Apollo crafts launched from Baikonur and the Kennedy Space Center respectively, on July 15, 1975. The two spacecraft successfully completed the rendezvous and docking on July 17th. While the Soyuz craft returned to Earth on July 21st, the Apollo craft stayed in space another 3 days, landing on July 24th in the Pacific Ocean. ASTP was a success, as not only did crews accomplish the rendezvous and docking, but they also performed in-flight intervehicular crew transfers and various scientific experiments.

ASTP proved to be significant step toward improving international cooperation in space during the Cold War.


In Focus: Star City and the Baikonur Cosmodrome

Earlier today, a Soyuz-FG rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, carrying an International Space Station crew into orbit. Baikonur, Russia’s primary space launch facility since the 1950s, is the largest in the world, and supports multiple launches of both manned and unmanned rockets every year. With the U.S. manned space program currently on hold, Baikonur is now the sole launching point for trips to the ISS.

Top: The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-21 space ship carrying a new crew to the ISS, lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on April 5, 2011. Circular star tracks and the trail of the rocket are the result of the long time exposure.

Center: A Russian Soyuz TMA-21 space capsule descends about 150 km south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on September 16, 2011.

Bottom: A composite of a series of images photographed from the ISS, released on March 16, 2012. A total of 18 images photographed by the astronaut-monitored stationary camera were combined to create this composite.

See more. [Images: AP, NASA]

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