Our Night Sky When We Collide With Andromeda
In the photos above in order:
— Present day
— 2 Billion years from now the of the approaching Andromeda galaxy is noticeably larger
— 3.75 Billion years, Andromeda fills the field of view
— 3.85 Billion years, the sky is ablaze with new star formation
— 3.9 Billion years, star formation continues
— 4 Billion years, Milky Way is warped and Andromeda is tidally stretched
— 5.1 Billion years, cores of both galaxies appear as a pair of globes
— 7 Billion years, the cores have merged, the bright core dominates the night sky
Here is an animation of the collision
In around 4 billion years our galaxy, The Milky Way, will collide with our neighbor galaxy Andromeda or M31. You might think this will be a catastrophic event for everything in the galaxy including our solar system but in reality most of the solar systems will simply pass by each other. However, given the new galactic center and the new mass pulling everything towards it and tossing it around, the orbits of those solar systems will be changed.
The massive Andromeda galaxy is about 120,000 light years across while our galaxy is 100,000 light years across. Given their size, the speed that we our hurdling towards each other is relatively small at 250,000 miles per hour.
Piano notes made visible for the first time
Music is beautiful isn’t it? The team at CymaScope visualized the dynamic sounds of the piano’s first strike and the eventual plateau and decay phase of different notes. You can listen to the sounds here and watch as the geometric shapes come to life.
Here is a list of the geometric glyphs for each note
Cymascope - Sound Made Visible
Wired writer Rhet Allain gets into some serious scifi homework I recommend to both science and physics enthusiasts, and star wars fans. Here he offers up a list of objectives in the form of a homework assignment for you to get into a bit of physics (or lack of) through the Star Wars Universe:
I recently did a Reddit AMA on the Science of Star Wars. If you like, you can check some of the very interesting questions (along with my answers). Or even better, I will list some Reddit inspired questions in Star Wars that you can turn in for homework. The usual rule applies, if you wait too long to turn in the homework, I might answer them instead.
-Now for the questions from Reddit. You might want to take a peek at my answers on the AMA, but that won’t be good enough for a full homework answer.
-How hot is a light saber? (from roguepublichealth) I think you have to first figure out what a light saber actually is and why it glows.
-How much material would be needed to build the Death Star (from astanisic) You will obviously need some estimates here. If you want a second question, how long would it take to put this Death Star together. You can answer for both the first (Episode IV) and second (Episode VI) Death Stars – which are different sizes.
-How can you make artificial gravity in a spaceship (other than spinning) (from awhit13). I think this question might be accomplished with a literature review. Surely someone out there has come up with an explanation for how these spaceships could have artificial gravity in them. Oh, and if you just say “interial dampeners”, you will fail.
-What is more deadly, blasters or kinetic weapons (conventional bullets) (from JimmyDeLaRustles). I guess you need to first figure out what a blaster bolt actually is made of. My guess is that it is plasma. Next you need to say how something is deadly – is it the kinetic energy, the total energy, the momentum?
-Why doesn’t an AT-AT fall over when it walks? (from RagingLlamas) You might want to examine the Hoth battle scene from Episode V.
-How far in the past do the Star Wars movies take place? Clearly, there isn’t an exact answer. You can get a range of ages though. Also, how far away is this galaxy – a range is fine too.
-Where is the center of mass for a light saber that is thrown? (from BrooklynKnight) Check out the scene where Vader throws his light saber.
There you go. No cheating.
Oh, a bonus essay question: Compare and contrast the physics of Star Wars vs. the physics of Star Trek.
Never-Before-Seen Stage of Planet Birth Revealed
Astronomers studying a newborn star have caught a detailed glimpse of planets forming around it, revealing a never-before seen stage of planetary evolution.
Large gas giant planets appear to be clearing a gap in the disk of material surrounding the star, and using gravity to channel material across the gap to the interior, helping the star to grow. Theoretical simulations have predicted such bridges between outer and inner portions of disks surrounding stars, but none have been directly observed until now.
Scientists have rewritten the known laws of physics after hitting a temperature lower than absolute zero. Physicists at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany created a quantum gas using potassium atoms, fixing them in a standard lattice group using magnetic fields and lasers.
From The Philosophy of Music, William Pole.
The Sun on Christmas (12/25/12)
We still are seeing a quiet Sun. Even though the active region in the center of the Sun harbors the energy for a M-class (Medium) sized solar flare, we have only tracked B and C-class flares. These are much smaller in size and provide barely noticeable effects.
Wishing you all a safe celebration today!
(Credit: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory)
Cassini Instrument Learns New Tricks
by Jai Rui-Cook, JPL
For seven years, a mini-fridge-sized instrument aboard NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reliably investigated weather patterns swirling around Saturn; the hydrocarbon composition of the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan; the aerosol layers of Titan’s haze; and dirt mixing with ice in Saturn’s rings. But this year the instrument — the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) - has been testing out some new telescopic muscles.
This Friday, Dec. 21, the spectrometer will be tracking the path of Venus across the face of the sun from its perch in the Saturn system. Earthlings saw such a transit earlier this year, from June 5 to 6. But the observation in December will be the first time a spacecraft has tracked a transit of a planet in our solar system from beyond Earth orbit.
Cassini will collect data on the molecules in Venus’s atmosphere as sunlight shines through it. But learning about Venus actually isn’t the point of the observation. Scientists actually want to use the occasion to test the VIMS instrument’s capacity for observing planets outside our solar system…
(read more: Jet Propulsion Lab) (image: )
2M1207b - First image of an exoplanet
Shot Away from its Companion, Giant Star Makes Waves
by Whitney Clavin
Like a ship plowing through still waters, the giant star Zeta Ophiuchi is speeding through space, making waves in the dust ahead. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has captured a dramatic, infrared portrait of these glowing waves, also known as a bow shock.
Astronomers theorize that this star was once sitting pretty next to a companion star even heftier than itself. But when that star died in a fiery explosion, Zeta Ophiuchi was kicked away and sent flying. Zeta Ophiuchi, which is 20 times more massive and 80,000 times brighter than our sun, is racing along at about 54,000 mph (24 kilometers per second).
In this view, infrared light that we can’t see with our eyes has been assigned visible colors. Zeta Ophiuchi appears as the bright blue star at center. As it charges through the dust, which appears green, fierce stellar winds push the material into waves…
(read more: NASA) (image: NASA/JPL-CalTech)
Long, long ago, in a 5th-dimensional membrane far away, there was a quantum fluctuational collision and things went boom. a baby universe was born, filled with scary and sparkly matter. Right away the scary matter and the sparkly matter hated each other and most of them annihilated. But there was only like 50 billion scary matter parts for every 50 billion and 1 sparkly matter parts, so some of the sparkly got away and the universe was saved. the baby universe grew quickly, going through the photon epoch, the terrible-twos epoch, the radiation-dominated epoch, and finally arriving through photo-voltaic decoupling at the present sprinkle-dominated epoch. the friedmann-goodpony equations describe the wobbly-wimey curvature of the present universe, and the MLP metric predicts whether the universe is carrot-shaped or saddle-shaped. most people think it’s flat though because they’re BORING. the the carrot and/or saddle-shaped universe still had lots of sparkly matter which clumped together though the clumpiness metric and eventually evolved into ponies. born in nuclear clouds of pretty nebulae, the sparkle-matter-dominated ponies grew and sparkled, held up by hydrostatic equilibrium and those polytropic thingies. the faraway ponies were redshifted into redness and the close ones were blueshifted and that’s why ponies are different colours. eventually some ponies grew so large that their electrons fused from sparkly matter into degenerate matter, the degeneracy pressure derived from the pauli exclusion principle caused them to collapse into neutron ponies. due to conservation of angular momentum, these degenerate neutron ponies rotated so quickly that they ejected high-energy gamma rays and rainbow particles and turned into cosmic lighthouses. these lighthouses re-ignited the fusion of scary matter and eventually morphed into god-tier ponies. fortunately for the peasants some of the god-tier ponies were benevolent, and took pity on the tired, stressed-out worlds spun by their own rainbow-decay particles. unto them, five beans were given, which turned into trees and then drinks and that’s how coffee was born.