NGC 4696

  Dec 2, 2016 Galactic filaments are known to plasma physicists as Birkeland currents. A recent press release details the enigmatic structure of Galaxy NGC 4696. What makes this galaxy so unique is that multiple strands of material extend outward in light-years-long tendrils, enclosing it in a loose cocoon. According to …

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Order Out of Chaos

A model of the magnetic field in the Sun’s atmosphere superimposed on a false-color, extreme ultraviolet (171 angstroms) image. Credits: NASA/SDO/AIA/LMSAL

  Dec 1, 2016 What makes the Sun a variable star? A recently published animation illustrates the Sun’s electromagnetic field as it twists and folds through its ionized plasma. The “Sun in a bottle” was created in order to understand how an apparently chaotic solar environment forms a stable electromagnetic field. …

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Titan Mons

The Mithrim Montes region showing Titan Mons at 3337 meters high. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI

  Nov 29, 2016 The tallest mountain on Titan. The Cassini spacecraft was launched October 15, 1997 on a mission to explore Saturn and Titan, the gas giant’s largest moon. With the Huygens lander included, Cassini was the largest interplanetary space probe ever launched. It is 6.7 meters high, four meters …

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  Nov 28, 2016 Did a 10-kilometer-wide asteroid strike Earth and excavate a crater? Off the coast of Mexico is what geologists believe to be an impact basin caused by the collision of an asteroid. It is a multi-ringed structure, similar to those mentioned in a previous Picture of the …

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Cosmic Ions

Part of the IceCube neutrino observatory in Antarctica

Nov 25, 2016 Note: The Picture of the Day is on hiatus for the holiday. In the interim, here is a favorite from the archives. New studies suggest that the origin of the strongest cosmic rays is still mysterious. Cosmic rays are energetic ions from space that arrive in the …

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Electric Rings

Saturn's rings in 3D. Click image to enlarge. Note: for best 3D effect, use red left and cyan right glasses. Start slowly at middle left and scan across the plane until Saturn appears in the background. Credit: Donald Davis

  Nov 24, 2016 What force created and sustains Saturn’s rings? Saturn’s main rings, including gaps, are approximately 416,000 kilometers wide, but are estimated to be a mere 50 meters thick, possibly as little as 10 meters. This means that even the most powerful Earth-based telescopes can detect only a thin …

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Split the Sky


  Nov 23, 2016 Nova explosions are electrical phenomena. According to a recent press release, two novae were spotted in the constellation Sagittarius. One, temporarily identified as TCP J18102829-2729590 and the other one, called ASASSN-16ma, were found in late October. A nova explosion is thought to occur when a white …

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Say What?


  Nov 22, 2016 The Large Hadron Collider has met with a few unforeseen accidents. Could they be a bizarre case of sabotage? Originally published October 2009 Particle physicists began thinking about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) early in the 1980s. The LHC’s predecessor, the Large Electron Positron Collider (LEP) …

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Core Principles


  Nov 21, 2016 The Sun is not a fusion reactor. Heliophysicists believe that the Sun’s core pressure is so dense and the temperature so high that hydrogen atoms crush together until they fuse into helium. It is thought to be approximately 15 million Celsius and more than 340 billion times Earth’s …

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Cold Got To Be


  Nov 17, 2016 Pluto reveals its electrical birth. In an Electric Universe, the Solar System, and by extension, the rest of the galaxy, is governed by electromagnetism. This idea sets consensus ideas about cosmology and cosmogony against an electrical theory for how the planets behave. In most theories about …

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