Goodbye Cassini

The Cassini spacecraft is scheduled to plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere tomorrow ending its 13 exploration of Saturn. Here’s a picture (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute), it’s not the best but it is one of the last:

For better views you can get a short movie here (WordPress doesn’t allow me to put it in this post) or there’s a nice book here.

It’s been a great ride Cassini, thanks for the great pictures and videos over the years.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

I went to the Gardner Museum, so here are some pictures:

It’s an impressive little house in the Fenway. The building is also nice but they’re fixing it up right now so you can mostly only see construction.

Happy Independence Day

Happy Fourth of July everyone. Here are some all-American sights here in Malden:

A monument giving the founding date of the city:

A public library  (the Converse Memorial)

A fire station:

The Malden Public High School:

You might notice that there are US flags in front of each. Happy Independence Day.

Cassini flies close to Saturn

Here are some pictures that Cassini took a few days ago (Credit: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech):

As you can see, they’re not all that impressive … except:

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is giving earthlings their closest-ever views of Saturn’s swirled atmosphere and its massive hurricane, beaming a trove of images and data back to Earth after the craft made its first dive between Saturn and its rings Wednesday.

This is part of Cassini’s Grand Finale and the first of its dives close to Saturn. The pictures aren’t impressive but they give new information on Saturn.

Out with a bang

In some ways this has been a pretty bad year. but with a President Trump I expect the next few years to be worse. Therefore, let me put up some nice pictures of what the world under Trump might look like. First it’s NGC 6357 (Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L. Townsley et al; Optical: UKIRT; Infrared: NASA/JPL-Caltech) :

Astronomers call NGC 6357 and other objects like it “HII” (pronounced “H-two”) regions. An HII region is created when the radiation from hot, young stars strips away the electrons from neutral hydrogen atoms in the surrounding gas to form clouds of ionized hydrogen, which is denoted scientifically as “HII”.

Donald Trump will certainly strip some pretty important things from our country. Anyway, it’s a pretty picture:

ngc6357

Next is megamaser (Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt (geckzilla)):

Megamasers are intensely bright, around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. The entire galaxy essentially acts as an astronomical laser that beams out microwave emission rather than visible light (hence the ‘m’ replacing the ‘l’).

This galaxy has a far more exciting and futuristic classification than most — it is a megamaser. Megamasers are intensely bright, around 100 million times brighter than the masers found in galaxies like the Milky Way. The entire galaxy essentially acts as an astronomical laser that beams out microwave emission rather than visible light (hence the ‘m’ replacing the ‘l’).  This megamaser is named IRAS 16399-0937, and is located over 370 million light-years from Earth. This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image belies the galaxy’s energetic nature, instead painting it as a beautiful and serene cosmic rosebud. The image comprises observations captured across various wavelengths by two of Hubble’s instruments: the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), and the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS).  NICMOS’s superb sensitivity, resolution, and field of view gave astronomers the unique opportunity to observe the structure of IRAS 16399-0937 in detail. They found that IRAS 16399-0937 hosts a double nucleus — the galaxy’s core is thought to be formed of two separate cores in the process of merging. The two components, named IRAS 16399N and IRAS 16399S for the northern and southern parts respectively, sit over 11 000 light-years apart. However, they are both buried deep within the same swirl of cosmic gas and dust and are interacting, giving the galaxy its peculiar structure. The nuclei are very different. IRAS 16399S appears to be a starburst region, where new stars are forming at an incredible rate. IRAS 16399N, however, is something known as a LINER nucleus (Low Ionization Nuclear Emission Region), which is a region whose emission mostly stems from weakly-ionised or neutral atoms of particular gases. The northern nucleus also hosts a black hole with some 100 million times the mass of the Sun!

 

Happy New Year.

Tour the solar system

These tour guide like posters are pretty good, like this one of Europa (Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech):

europa

Ok, I’m off to Europa. Have fun on stuffy old Earth.

Spit take

Scientists have found more evidence that Jupiter’s moon Europa has water plumes erupting from the service (Credit: NASA/ESA/W. Sparks (STScI)/USGS Astrogeology Science Center):

europa02-photoa-plumes1042x1042-160919

This backs up evidence found in 2012, but I have a different theory. I think Europa is a sentient being and every once in a while it takes a peak at Earth and is so astounded by what’s going on that it spits out the water it was drinking.

In other news, the first Presidential debate is toning so expect an extra large plume if Europa is looking our way.

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