Pulsar Wind Nebulae

Jan 31, 2012 Some so-called “neutron star pulsars” are said to create nebulae as they spin. The standard model of stellar evolution proposes that pulsars are neutron stars rotating at incredible speed. For example, PSR J1748-2446ad, in the globular cluster Terzan 5, is reported to be spinning at almost 43,000 …

Continue reading

A Solar Siesta

Jan 30, 2012 The Sun is predicted to “hibernate” during its next cycle in 2020. A recent press release states that the Sun’s activity will slow to an unprecedented decline in the next ten years. The prediction is based on “…three independent studies of the sun’s insides, surface, and upper …

Continue reading

Rainy Days on Saturn

Jan 26, 2012 Water vapor in the gas giant’s clouds comes from a local source. According to a recent press release the European Space Agency’s Herschel space observatory has detected a torus of water vapor around Saturn. The newly discovered ring is extremely diffuse and invisible to optical telescopes, requiring …

Continue reading

The Fall of El Gordo

Jan 25, 2012 El Gordo is so called because it is the biggest, brightest, and hottest pair of colliding galaxy clusters known to astronomers. Astronomers “know” that El Gordo is over 7 billion light-years from Earth. This knowledge derives from the amount by which El Gordo’s light is shifted toward …

Continue reading

A Kinked Link

Jan 23, 2012 Plasma instabilities are a better explanation for the Milky Way’s strangely distorted central ring. According to a recent press release, “…observations from the Herschel Space Observatory show a bizarre, twisted ring of dense gas at the center of our Milky Way galaxy.” The ring observation is not …

Continue reading

Electric Helix

Jan 20, 2012 A recent image of the Helix Nebula in the constellation Aquarius exposes more details of its electrical structure. The new infrared image shows radial Birkeland currents (called “strands” in the press release) crossing the concentric rings and converging on the central star. (Will “strands” now replace the …

Continue reading