Deep Magellanic Clouds Image Indicates Collisions : Did the two most famous satellite galaxies of our Milky Way Galaxy once collide? No one knows for sure, but a detailed inspection of deep images like that featured here give an indication that they have. Pictured, the Large Magellanic Cloud is on the bottom right. The surrounding field is monochrome color-inverted to highlight faint filaments, shown in gray. Perhaps surprisingly, the featured research-grade image was compiled with small telescopes to cover the large angular field nearly 40 degrees across. Much of the faint nebulosity is Galactic Cirrus clouds of thin dust in our own Galaxy, but a faint stream of stars does appear to be extending from the SMC toward the LMC. Also, stars surrounding the LMC appear asymmetrically distributed, indicating in simulations that they could well have been pulled off gravitationally in one or more collisions. Both the LMC and the SMC are visible to the unaided eye in southern skies. Future telescopic observations and computer simulations are sure to continue in a continuing effort to better understand the history of our Milky Way and its surroundings. via NASA

NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the first known system of seven Earth-size planets around a single star. Three of these planets are firmly located in the habitable zone, the area around the parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to have liquid water.

The discovery sets a new record for greatest number of habitable-zone planets found around a single star outside our solar system. All of these seven planets could have liquid water – key to life as we know it – under the right atmospheric conditions, but the chances are highest with the three in the habitable zone.

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top science priority and finding so many planets like these for the first time in the habitable zone is a remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

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Nebula Helix by Spitzer

This infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix Nebula. The nebula, located about 700 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius, belongs to a class of objects called planetary nebulae.

Image credit: NASA / Spitzer

  • Listen

Voyager I and the Blue Planet

I wonder if you remember me.
You said, “Go out. Find me
that universe, and take these
with you.” Talismans.

Good luck charms like Mozart
and fifty-five ways to say hello.
Navajo night chant,
Peruvian wedding song,
diagrams of ribcages, gender,
bushmen and bones.
Gifts for a people you said
I may never meet.

It has been thirty-four years
and I wonder if you remember me.

Less and less,
we call across the distance:
sixteen-point-twelve hours
between transmissions
and I wonder if you remember me.

I nearly kissed Jupiter for you,
nearly skimmed Saturn’s bright rings,
but you said, “Go out.
Find me that universe,”
so I sail out into the dark for you.

I keep a photo of you
to keep away the quiet
between your calls:
pale speck, long distant,
but I remember you.

I know now,
you will never call me home.