The Apollo 11 command module, which took the first moonwalkers to lunar orbit and back in 1969, is undergoing a painstaking restoration, in preparation for an unusual national tour later this year.
Until recently, the capsule sat in the main lobby of the National Air and Space Museum, where it had been since the museum opened in 1976. Conservator Lisa Young says that occasionally workers would open up its Plexiglas case to look it over or put in new lighting.
“But it never really went under a full examination or investigative analysis as to all of the certain materials on there, how stable they are,” says Young, who is working on the spacecraft now in a restoration hangar at the Smithsonian’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., outside of Washington, D.C.
“Our big job as conservators right now is to figure out, if we are going to put it back on display permanently, what could be happening to it in 50 years,” says Young, who wants to prevent future deterioration.
How Quickly Are The Pillars Of Creation Being Destroyed?
“The new image includes infrared data, which penetrates the dust, revealing stars and showcasing where the gas (in blue, above) is evaporating.
Changes between the images indicate that the pillars are still intact today, even though the light we’re seeing came from 7,000 years ago.
The best evidence for changes comes at the base of the pillars, indicating an evaporation time of approximately 100,000 years.”
Are the beautiful and iconic Pillars of Creation, located deep within the Eagle Nebula, still around today? At a distant of 7,000 light years, the Pillars could have been destroyed at any point from about 5,000 B.C. to the present, and we’d have no way of knowing. When they were first imaged in 1995, many speculated that the nebula, containing new stars and many supernova candidates, may have already destroyed these dusty structures by now. In 2007, a study by the Spitzer Space Telescope showed off some hot, glowing dust, perhaps indicating a supernova that took place some 8000-9000 years ago. But the most recent data from Hubble, in both the visible and infrared combined, not only teaches us that the supernova was an unlikely explanation for the dust, but allowed us to measure the true rate of evaporation of the Pillars themselves.
NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope
has made an new discovery: it found a giant galaxy located 10 billion
light-years from Earth.
The disk-shaped galaxy, named MACS2129-1,
is categorized as a “dead” galaxy since it no longer creates stars —
scientists believe star formation stopped for the fast-spinning galaxy a
few billion years after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.
The new galaxy is compact. For reference, it is three times heavier than the Milk Way
but only half the size, according to study leader Sune Toft, an
astrophysicist at Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr Institute in
Copenhagen. It also rotates a lot faster than the Milky Way. Read more (6/26/17)
What's a neutron star? I read about them in Bill Bryson's book, but I couldn't figure out why a neutron start would happen in the first place?
When massive stars collapse, the core of the star gets compressed extremely tightly by the force of its own gravity. As the core collapses, the electrons and protons in the core get closer and closer together. Eventually, the core gets so dense that the electrons and protons are forced together, combining into neutrons. The entire core becomes essentially a solid ball of neutrons, as dense as an atomic nuclei. The outer layers of the star, which are also rushing in towards the core, bounce off of this rock-hard layer of neutrons and whiz off into space, creating a supernova and leaving behind a neutron star at the center. And all of this happens in less than a second. Pretty wild. To summarize: neutron stars are giant balls of neutrons that resulted when a stellar core collapsed and became so dense the protons and electrons combined into neutrons.
Side note: Robert L. Forward wrote a really interesting novel called Dragon’s Egg, which was about intelligent life on a neutron star! It’s quite an interesting read, and you learn a whole lot about neutron stars since the author has a Ph.D in physics. If you want a copy, you can find it here; you won’t find it at a bookstore because it’s out of print, but you can find a used copy online (I linked to one). Let me know if you have any other questions, I’m happy to answer them!