astronomy

Signs + Loneliness
  • Aries:sits blankly by the computer. Very unsettling.
  • Taurus:just kinda lies there. Completely consumed by loneliness.
  • Gemini:doesn't like it but can handle it, more or less. Daydreams about seeing them again.
  • Cancer:like a puppy. Stares out the window, waiting for their return.
  • Leo:bothers them, makes them angry that they can't do anything about it.
  • Virgo:doesn't affect them in the usual way. Antsy, tries to meet up with them.
  • Libra:literally cannot handle it. Goes insane with sorrow.
  • Scorpio:can't stand the feeling but doesn't let it show. Suffering on the inside.
  • Sagittarius:completely unfazed. Doesn't need anyone really.
  • Capricorn:tries to make the best of it. Attempts to distract themselves with books and tea.
  • Aquarius:it's fine. Company would be nice, but it's fine...(no it's not)
  • Pisces:depends. Either an absolute inconsolable mess or too busy lost in their own world to be troubled by it.

Space is pretty. Astronomers were just testing out a camera when they captured the closest-ever look at Orion’s Belt. 

It was taken with an advanced imaging and spectroscopic tool that records in infrared light. By going through barriers like dust and clouds, it can show details that aren’t visible to the human eye, or even the Hubble Space Telescope. 

This image is really a composite of two photos with some coloration to distinguish formations and temperature zones. Hot stars are white or blue, cooler areas are in red and orange, and the crimson patch shows jets of gas from stars in the process of being born. 

Learn more about the photos and how scientists are using them for research here.

Spiral galaxy ESO 137-001

This image shows spiral galaxy ESO 137-001, framed against a bright background as it moves through the heart of galaxy cluster Abell 3627.

The image not only captures the galaxy and its backdrop in stunning detail, but also something more dramatic — intense blue streaks streaming outwards from the galaxy, seen shining brightly in ultraviolet light.

These streaks are in fact hot, wispy streams of gas that are being torn away from the galaxy by its surroundings as it moves through space. This violent galactic disrobing is due to a process known as ram pressure stripping — a drag force felt by an object moving through a fluid.

Credit: NASA, ESA
Acknowledgements: Ming Sun (UAH), and Serge Meunier

YEAR IN SPACE

Long duration spaceflight takes a significant toll on the human body. It’s not like getting in a 20-meter sailboat and sailing around the world: you don’t feel the pull of gravity, bone density decreases, even the shape of the eye changes, affecting vision. In the entire history of human spaceflight, there have been only six people who have been on spaceflights of 300 or more days. If humans are to go to Mars or beyond one day, we need to know more about how long-duration spaceflight affects the human body.

That is why NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency have teamed up for the Year in Space mission. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko were launched into space on March 27, 2015 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to spend a year living and working aboard the International Space Station. For comparison, a typical tour on the ISS lasts between 120 and 180 days. A manned mission to Mars is expected to last at least 500 days.

Several areas of study will be pursued over that year, including monitoring their performance of space station duties, the quality of exercise routines and sleep patterns, crew interactions, vision changes, metabolism, genetic makeup and psychology.

Astronaut Kelly’s identical twin brother Mark, himself a former astronaut, will serve as a control subject on Earth over the same time period, in order to closely monitor the differences between Earthbound and space-based subjects.

The data collected from the mission will have applications on Earth as well, including helping medical patients recover from long-term rest and potentially improving the health of patients with compromised immune systems.

September 27 will mark the halfway point in this historic mission. At the conclusion of the mission early next year, Scott Kelly will hold the record for spaceflight duration for an American, for both single spaceflights and cumulative time spent in space. He is a veteran of three spaceflights previously.

You can keep up with the Year in Space mission by following Scott Kelly on Instagram at stationcdrkelly or on Twitter @StationCDRKelly. -MAX

SOURCES

PHOTO CREDIT
By NASA/Scott Kelly [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

FURTHER READING: Mary Roach, Packing for Mars: the Curious Science of Life in the Void, WW Norton & Company, New York, 2010.

“Yeah. You know how? When the big bang happened, all the atoms in the universe, they were all smashed together into one little dot that exploded outward. So my atoms and your atoms were certainly together then, and, who knows, probably smashed together several times in the last 13.7 billion years. So my atoms have known your atoms and they’ve always known your atoms. My atoms have always loved your atoms.”

Sun Accused of Stealing Planetary Objects from Another Star

At the time of Sedna’s discovery in 2003, it was the farthest body ever seen in our planetary club. Its peculiar path—it never ventures near the giant planets—suggested an equally peculiar history. How did it get there? The sun may have snatched Sedna away from another star, new computer simulations show.

A clue to Sedna’s past came in 2012, when observers spotted a second and even smaller object with a similarly elongated and remote orbit. Astronomers Lucie Jílková and Simon Portegies Zwart of Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands and their colleagues decided to investigate whether interstellar robbery could produce the orbits of both Sedna and its sidekick, 2012 VP113. “We show that it’s possible,” Jílková says. Moreover, the researchers reconstructed the crime scene and even the likely properties of the victim star, which they dubbed “Star Q.” In work submitted to Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the astronomers say Star Q was originally about 80 percent more massive than the sun. It passed within 34 billion kilometers of us—just 7.5 times greater than the distance from the sun to Neptune. This proximity means the star arose in the same stellar group or cluster as the sun. Although Star Q still exists, its fiercest light probably burned out long ago because of its greater mass. As a dim white dwarf, it will be hard to find.

Scientific American

Image: Sedna (green) and 2012 VP113 (red) never come close to the orbits of the four giant planets (blue) or even to Pluto’s home in the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt.
   Credit: (color inverted from original) SCOTT S. SHEPPARD Carnegie Institution for Science; Amanda Montañez

Editor’s note: Examining this possibility should include how this might have effected the theoretical Oort Cloud ~ JN Ph7.5