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First Pride Flag Launched Into Stratosphere
Planting Peace, a nonprofit dedicated to "spreading peace in a hurting world," launched the first Pride flag into the stratosphere.

“It was an honor to send the first Pride flag into space, and it provided a wonderful opportunity to show that Planting Peace will not stop fighting for LGBTQ rights until all sexual and gender minorities experience full, fundamental rights in every corner of the universe,“ Aaron Jackson, president of Planting Peace, told NBC OUT.

"The backdrop of space gave us a stunning, inspiring and peaceful canvas for our message of hope to our LGBTQ family. I would love for LGBTQ children who are struggling to see this, and look up to the stars and remember that the universe shines brightly for them, and they are not alone,” Jackson added.

Mt. Erebus in Antarctica, the southernmost active volcano in the world, is known for the numerous ice fumaroles - also known as ice chimneys - that dot the surrounding landscape. The ice towers are created when snow and ice begin to form around gas escaping from the pressurized caves beneath the ground. These caves are of special interest to astrobiologists, as they are untouched by humans and contain only extremophile bacteria and fungi. It is believed that such caves may exist on Mars, suggesting that it may be possible for life to exist there.

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Despite such a black hole being several thousand times smaller than any of the planets, its mass would be several thousand times greater. Thus, any planets unfortunate enough to be caught in its path would be devoured.

By the time the black hole reached the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, things would look bleak for us. The intense gravitational pull of the black hole would have torn our planet asunder, causing devastating earthquakes and supervolcanoes the likes of which humanity has never witnessed before. Upon reaching Earth’s orbit our planet is all but doomed, reduced to a smoldering uninhabitable magma-laden rock, with Mercury and Venus soon following suit.

The final battle, between the black hole and the Sun, wouldn’t be quite so one-sided. A gravitational tug of war would ensue and, depending on the initial mass of the black hole, there’s a chance the Sun could survive in some shape or form. Unfortunately, the most likely scenario is that, like the planets, the Sun is ripped apart and joins the planets in the swirling mass of super-heated dust and gas roaring around the black hole.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2016 September 28 

NGC 3576: The Statue of Liberty Nebula 

What’s happening in the Statue of Liberty nebula? Bright stars and interesting molecules are forming and being liberated. The complex nebula resides in the star forming region called RCW 57. This image showcases dense knots of dark interstellar dust, bright stars that have formed in the past few million years, fields of glowing hydrogen gas ionized by these stars, and great loops of gas expelled by dying stars.

A detailed study of NGC 3576, also known as NGC 3582 and NGC 3584, uncovered at least 33 massive stars in the end stages of formation, and the clear presence of the complex carbon molecules known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are thought to be created in the cooling gas of star forming regions, and their development in the Sun’s formation nebula five billion years ago may have been an important step in the development of life on Earth. The featured image was taken at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.