Artwork of the day: NASA

Supernova remnant W44.    Image credit: Herschel: Quang Nguyen Luong & F. Motte, HOBYS Key Program consortium, Herschel SPIRE/PACS/ESA consortia. XMM-Newton: ESA/XMM-Newton

Okay, it’s not technically art, but I find it visually intriguing. This is a composite image showing supernova remnant W44. The blue in the center shows a pulsar and x-ray emissions, the rest of the image is infrared.

See the article “Life and Death in a Star-Forming Cloud“.

Where did all the light in the universe come from?

If you’ve got nothing to do for the next 9 minutes, and you enjoy watching cool animations while totally blowing your mind, you might enjoy this fine documentary about how all the light in the universe came to be.

With gorgeous graphics by Aimei Kutt.


Funny how it makes all your earthly cares seem small, isn’t it?

Exiled stars in a misogyny-free astronomy news story

Supermassive black hole illustration via NASAJPL

Experimenting with RedOrbit’s reblog function, I discovered this story about hypervelocity stars, informally known as exiled stars.   You’ve probably noticed that I’m fond enough of exiled stars to name my blog after ’em.  Both astronomers mentioned in the story are women. Also, there’s some neat animated graphics that show how exiled stars are cast out of the galaxy by black holes.

Support women in science and see neat space stuff.  Double win.

Astronomers Find Hypervelocity Stars Ejected From The Galactic Core (via redOrbit)

It’s very difficult to kick a star out of the galaxy. In fact, the primary mechanism that astronomers have come up with that can give a star the two-million-plus mile-per-hour kick it takes requires a close encounter with the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core. So far astronomers have…

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The Ultimate Fate of the Universe: Let It Rip!

Big Rip

Artist’s (not mine) conception of the end of the universe. (Credit)


The hypothesis relies crucially on the type of dark energy in the universe.

All my hypotheses should rely on that.  Because that’s about the coolest thing a hypothesis could rely on.

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So you’re throwing a dinner party in space….

…and you want to comport yourself with the grace and dignity expected of a well-bred astronaut.  What do you do?

Astronaut Don Pettit has the answers.

Don Pettit

You can’t not love a guy who can write from the viewpoint of a zucchini

“The image of an insect sucking the juices from some lower insect may come to mind, but in space it is considered impolite to give voice to such imagery.”

“Zero-g cups, unlike bags with straws, are better for social rituals like toasting, and will bring a smile to the faces of your guests.”

“In space, catching food in your mouth is considered polite. Opening wide and making a clean catch will most always bring cheers from your guests. In one impressive gulp, you can leave them with the image of some sea creature inhaling another.”


Read his entire blog at NASA and understand why I have a little crush on him.


Happy Birthday, Don Pettit

The aurora has a special message for you.

Auroral birthday card

That aurora's got great penmanship

I wonder if you baked a birthday cake in space, would it fall?  And if it did, which way?   These are important scientific questions.  Get on it, astronauts!

(If you are tuning in late, go read this fascinating blog.  You’ll never come back.  You’ll start downloading cool space images and forget all about me.  And that will make me sad.  But it’s all about the advancement of science.)


This Isn’t One of My Paintings

But I wish it were.  It looks almost like this, doesn’t it?

Noctilucent clouds by Don Pettit

Night-shining clouds as seen from the International Space Station. Photo credit: Don Pettit and NASA TV

They hover on the edge of space. Thin, wispy clouds, glowing electric blue. Some scientists think they’re seeded by space dust. Others suspect they’re a telltale sign of global warming.

They’re called noctilucent or “night-shining” clouds (NLCs for short). And whatever causes them, they’re lovely.

“Over the past few weeks we’ve been enjoying outstanding views of these clouds above the southern hemisphere,” said space station astronaut Don Pettit during a NASA TV broadcast last month. “We routinely see them when we’re flying over Australia and the tip of South America.

Read the rest of this article here.


Don Pettit writes poetry about auroras.  I may have a tiny little geek-girl crush on him.  Maybe.

Don Pettit

Don Pettit, in space


Space quote of the day: A Universe Without Purpose

Uranian aurora


“Imagining living in a universe without purpose may prepare us to better face reality head on.”

Read the rest of this excellent piece by Lawrence M. Krauss here.

Flying into the aurora

Now this is a job I wouldn’t mind having.

The kind of effects I struggle to capture in paint on canvas are conjured up by magnetized particles with the greatest of ease.

We look at space and feel small.  And it’s good for us.


Via @openculture and @youtube

Space Art of the Day by C.M. Wong. Also, spammers are getting all deep

Deep Space Omegon by C.M. Wong

Deep Space Omegon by C.M. Wong, courtesy of International Space Art Network

I usually delete all the spam comments but this one was just too good to resist.  I quote it in its entirety:

‘…What was outside space before space expanded…”. Absolutely and totally unknown..! No matter what others might say, that’s the *only* correct answer to that question. There are a number of ideas about pre-Big Bang, but not one of them can be proven at this time.. . “…will space continue to expand forever…”. Another question with no definite answer. At this time it’s generally thought that the universe will expand indefinitely until all the things *in* the universe have decayed totally away and nothing is left but absolute darkness and empty space. Another thought is that the universe *might* rip completely apart due to the increased expansion rate that was discovered several years ago, kind of like the popping balloon you mention. However, no one is certain what the final fate of our universe will be.

Name and website of spammer withheld for obvious reasons 😀