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Friday, November 28, 2014

Make It A "Black (Hole) Friday," NASA Style!

NASA's positive take on Black Friday: Black Hole Friday!

In general, I agree with the sentiment; let's shift our focus!

...Shift gears from thinking "out of the red and into the black" on Black Friday...

...To focus more on appreciating the awe inspiring things in this amazing universe of ours!
Yeah, I'm in!
Let's make it a Black Hole Friday instead!
Artwork Credit: NASA, and M. Weiss (Chandra X -ray Center)
"In this artist's illustration, turbulent winds of gas swirl around a black hole. Some of the gas is spiraling inward toward the black hole, but another part is blown away.
A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light can not get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeezed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying.
Because no light can get out, people can't see black holes. They are invisible. Space telescopes with special tools can help find black holes. The special tools can see how stars that are very close to black holes act differently than other stars.
How Big Are Black Holes?
Black holes can be big or small. Scientists think the smallest black holes are as small as just one atom. These black holes are very tiny but have the mass of a large mountain. Mass is the amount of matter, or "stuff," in an object."

Want to learn more about Black Holes?  Let Me Google That For You :)

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Saturn's Moon Titan Has Lakes... That Aren't Really Water... And One Is Named Kraken...

Titan's the name of a moon of Saturn, so it's pretty "titanic," if you get my drift.
It's also ice cold and would kill you, just like the boat.
BUT!! you'll have a great chance of enjoying watching THIS "titanic" video whether you're male OR female!

Video Credit: Cassini Radar Mapper, JPL, USGS, ESA, NASA
Explanation via NASA APOD: What would it look like to fly over Titan? Radar images from NASA's robotic Cassini satellite in orbit around Saturn have been digitally compiled to simulate such a flight. Cassini has swooped past Saturn's cloudiest moon several times since it arrived at the ringed planet in 2004. The virtual flight featured here shows numerous lakes colored black and mountainous terrain colored tan. Surface regions without detailed vertical information appear more flat, while sufficiently mapped regions have their heights digitally stretched. Among the basins visualized is Kraken Mare, Titan's largest lake which spans over 1,000 kilometers long.
Titan's lakes are different from Earth's lakes in that they are composed of hydrocarbons with similarities to liquid natural gas. How Titan's lakes were created and why they survive continues to be a topic of research.

Want to learn more about Titan? Let Me Google That For You :)

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The Fibonacci Spiral AKA The Golden Spiral In Sunflowers

[Update 12-10-14: Just found this amazing youtube vid expressing the beauty of these numbers.  It feels like it belongs in this post :)]

Vid Credit:Math on Youtube

My girlfriend and I took these pictures of gorgeous sunflowers near Lurray Caverns in VA.

Image Credits: my girlfriend and I.  And the sunflower gets a bit of credit too.  And math... gonna give math a bit of credit for once.

The Fibonacci Spiral, aka the "Golden Spiral," 
is a mirrored duplication rotated around the center to create the 
pattern found in sunflowers. 
Image:Wikimedia Commons-freely usable

Above, you see the Fibonacci Spiral: an approximation of the golden spiral created by drawing circular arcs connecting the opposite corners of squares in the Fibonacci tiling; this one uses squares of sizes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, and 34.

And to illustrate proportions within, here's a tiling with squares whose side lengths are successive Fibonacci numbers.
Image:Wikimedia Commons-freely usable

Fibonacci wasssss...?
...a math guru around 1200CE(AD) born right near the leaning tower of Pisa.  His efforts helped proved the Pythagorean Theorem (obviously pretty useful,) but he also offered the world some illumination on the topic of spiral patterns found in nature.[1] WHICH IS FASCINATING on top of being absolutely beautiful; and he's a lucky bugger to have his name forever connected to this.  Math found by nature... gotta love it.
[1 cite:]

Want to learn more on Fibonacci Numbers?  Let Me Google That For You :)

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hurricane Gonzalo Pic From NASA's Precipitation Tracking Equipment

Atmospheric science yield some pretty awesome visuals.  Here is a still-frame image from NASA's scanning output tracking precipitation in Hurricane Gonzalo, during Oct. 16th, 2014.

Image Credit: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. Data provided by the joint NASA/JAXA GPM mission.

Here's a video of their software in action.  Futuristic, to say the least.  It's amazing how this kind of thing can so simply convey the data that otherwise would possibly be too full of jargon for the layman.

On Astronasty's YouTube.  Video Credit as Requested: NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio. Data provided by the joint NASA/JAXA GPM mission.  
Video Permission: "You may use NASA imagery, video, audio, and data files used for the rendition of 3-dimensional models for educational or informational purposes, including photo collections, textbooks, public exhibits, computer graphical simulations and Internet Web pages. This general permission extends to personal Web pages."

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Art More Beautiful Than Fiction

"Poof!" goes a star, leaving its new dust to interact as it will.  Ever wonder what solar systems may look like before those clouds of dust coalesce to form the clumps we call planets?

Sometimes those who know the science + data can visualize things in a special way.
[Enter astronomers.]

Here's NASA's new artistic visualization of the actual planetary system austerely named "HD 95086."

Image Illustration Credit: Spitzer Space Telescope, JPL, NASA
Source page: NASA's APOD

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Milky Way View From Japanese Observatory

Taken on Sept. 16th 2014, found it today via NAOJ

"This panorama combines 7 pictures taken with a diagonal fisheye lens.The conditions inside Mizusawa VLBI Observatory are good and it is possible to see the Milky Way, but if you travel 30 minutes by car to the city outskirts, the city lights decrease and it is even easier to see.Objects like the Great Summer Triangle and the Andromeda Galaxy are pictured around the rainbow shaped Milky Way."

Image Credit: National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Further Photographer Credit: Makoto Shizugami (NAOJ Mizusawa VLBI Observatory)

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Magnetars! Explosions Occuring On Neutron Stars Due To Magnetic And Seismic Violence

Magnetars are neutron stars that have EXTREME magnetic activity, as well as intense seismic rippling.  These two attributes cause explosions on the surface of them, which is quite awe inspiring. Below is a new (late oct.) artist rendition of a magnetar, straight out of NASA's Goddard Studio.

Image credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger - from "Fermi Finds Hints of Starquakes in Magnetar 'Storm'"
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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Brand New NASA Pic of Sagittarius A from Chandra Space Telescope May Shed Light On High Energy Neutrino Source

Today's release is of note due to it giving us some clues on where the higher energy neutrinos are coming from.  Where is this hint leading us? The supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy may be involved!

Quoting NASA:
"While the Sun produces neutrinos that constantly bombard the Earth, there are also other neutrinos with much higher energies that are only rarely detected. Scientists have proposed that these higher-energy neutrinos are created in the most powerful events in the Universe like galaxy mergers, material falling onto supermassive black holes, and the winds around dense rotating stars called pulsars."

Newly released from NASA's CHANDRA x-ray observatory, this is new spiffy pic of Sagittarius A:

Credit: NASA (NASA/CXC/Univ. of Wisconsin/Y.Bai. et al.)
From "Sagittarius A*: NASA X-ray Telescopes Find Black Hole May Be a Neutrino Factory"

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