The Boston Globe runs a beautiful feature called “The Big Picture”. The most recent features images of The Sun which are breathtaking.
One thing I find particularly cool is that many of the most detailed pictures were taken with ground based telescopes, such as the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope. They use the full set of tricks to get this amazing resolution — including adaptive optics, where the telescope’s own mirror is deformed to match the distortions in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The picture above is dramatically reduced in size and quality; go see the real thing.
In other amazing-space-image related news, NASA will try to fix the Hubble Space Telescope tomorrow by switching to a backup system. The Hubble has been unable to send pictures back down to Earth for a few weeks now, as it’s come down with a bad case of broken electronics. In the meantime, they’ve still been able to do useful science by obtaining ever-more accurate positions of stars.
Read Full Post »
Very broadly speaking, the universe is made of three things. About 22% of it holds stuff together. This is called dark matter. Another 74% of it is pushing everything apart; this is dark energy. The last 4% is “everything else” and attends to inconsequential details like galaxies, stars, life, light, and Brad Pitt. While a fair amount is known about the last 4%, due to the successful research program known as “almost all science ever done”, very little is known about the first two.
Now, in a stunning breakthrough, we find the theory that dark matter is made of ghosts. Aside from a couple flaws*, the idea makes sense. After all, dark matter got it’s name because you can’t see it, and you can’t see ghosts either.
However, it seems to me much more likely that dark energy is made of ghosts, since dark energy provides a repulsive force and ghosts are scary.
*Specifically, the main flaw is that it’s completely nuts. Pamela gave a nice run-down of why in her post in case you actually needed convincing.
Read Full Post »