Archives for September, 2009

Dark Matter Part 3.5: When Clusters Collide!

Many of you saw the pictures I posted Monday of colliding galaxy clusters. These pictures were spectacular, because they not only show galaxy clusters less than 200 million years after a collision (which is short, cosmically), they also show where the mass lies (traced in blue) and where the X-ray emitting areas are (pink). You…

Squids and light pollution?!

As many of you know, light pollution at night has become a big problem. It’s a problem for flora and fauna, which rely on the “day/night” cycle that they’ve adapted to over billions of years, and it’s a problem for astronomers, as the light pollution disrupts observations of the night sky. All over the world,…

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. -Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven Gazing out into the dark abyss of the night sky, stars, galaxies, and clusters shine like tiny islands of light against the blackness of deep space. Trillions upon trillions…

Weekend Diversion: An Amazing Group of Women

I’ve liked the musician Rufus Wainwright for some time, but I didn’t realize that he was the son of Loudon Wainwright, whom I’ve just recently discovered. Loudon’s a singer/songwriter who’s been around for even longer, and who I like even better than Rufus. His song Father and Son was written for Rufus, but I think…

Gigagalaxy Zoom!

The Milky Way is a mysterious swath of darkness and light through the night sky. In places where light pollution is low enough to see it, its beauty is unmistakable. Well, the above image is what you might see with your naked eye. But even a small telescope can get you so much more. The…

The Moon is not Dehydrated!

When I was first learning about the science of the Moon, there were a few basic facts that everyone got right. The Moon has practically no atmosphere, as when sunlight hits the Moon, it very quickly can give individual molecules and atoms enough energy to achieve escape velocity. We thought the same thing was true…

Long you live and high you fly Smiles you’ll give and tears you’ll cry All you touch and all you see Is all your life will ever be. -Pink Floyd In part I of this series, we talked about a number of different ways — all using gravity — to measure the amount of matter…

Something Awesome About Lensed Galaxies

Gravitational lensing happens when a cluster of galaxies happens to be directly between us and an even more distant galaxy. The light from these distant galaxies gets warped into arcs and, oftentimes, multiple images. This shot from the new Hubble camera shows exactly what I’m talking about: Well, there are hundreds, if not thousands of…

Dark Matter Part I: How Much Matter is There?

There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking. -Alfred Korzybski I’ve recently received a number of messages from readers of this site expressing doubts about the existence of dark matter. As someone who’s researched dark matter extensively, it is my determination…

Weekend Diversion: Goodbye to the Swayze

I’ve got to say, I get some weird things in my head sometimes. I don’t know how many of you know who Vashti Bunyan is, but you may have heard a snippet from one of her songs last year in an NFL commercial. The beautiful, haunting song is called Train Song and it was the…