Stars

Category archives for Stars

Did this Supernova Leave Nothing Behind?

“Nothing leads the scientist so astray as a premature truth.” –Jean Rostand One of the most awesome events, literally, that happens in this Universe is when stars — giant nuclear furnaces like our Sun — die in the most energetic way possible: a supernova. Video credit: Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (Ors Hunor Detre, Oliver Krause), via…

Hubble: Still Unbeatable

“At the last dim horizon, we search among ghostly errors of observations for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. The urge is older than history. It is not satisfied and it will not be oppressed.” –Edwin Hubble Given the relative peace of our night skies, combined with the vast distances from…

Q & A: Where did the Sun Come From?

“Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.” –William Arthur Ward Few things are as essential to our world as we know it as the primary source of our light, heat, and all the life that flourishes on Earth as the Sun itself.…

“Every time you look up at the sky, every one of those points of light is a reminder that fusion power is extractable from hydrogen and other light elements, and it is an everyday reality throughout the Milky Way Galaxy.” –Carl Sagan (This post is coauthored by Dr. Peter Thieberger, Senior Physicist at Brookhaven National…

Why Star Corpses Go Green (and so will we!)

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” –William Shakespeare In January of 2006, the Hubble Space Telescope — equipped with the greatest telescope camera ever designed — took this detailed picture of globular cluster NGC 1846. Like most globular clusters, this is a very tight, dense collection of perhaps a few hundred thousand…

The Invisible Radiation of the Universe

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” –Vladimir Nabokov The wonderful images we take of deep space — from distant galaxies to all the stars, clusters, and nebulae within our own galaxy — all have something in…

Going Nuclear: How Stars Die

“After all, the universe required ten billion years of evolution before life was even possible; the evolution of the stars and the evolving of new chemical elements in the nuclear furnaces of the stars were indispensable prerequisites for the generation of life.” –John Polkinghorne There are close to a whopping 1028 atoms in your body.…

What makes a supernova so super, anyway?

Daughter, age 7: “Daddy, will the Earth always go around the Sun forever?” Louis CK: “Well no, at some point the Sun is going to explode.” Daughter: (starts crying) Louis CK: “Oh honey, this is not going to happen until you and everyone you know has been dead for a very long time.” Daughter: (continues…

The Color of Space

“We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry.” –Maria Mitchell When you look up at the vastness of the night sky, if you’ve got few clouds, no Moon and sufficient darkness, you won’t merely see thousands of tiny white pinpricks illuminating the black…

How to Eat the Earth

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” –Winston Churchill Ever wonder what will happen to the Earth once the Sun dies? Although it’s happening very slowly, the Sun is burning through the nuclear fuel that powers it, giving off a tremendous amount of energy all the time as…