Paul Gordon

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APOD: M42: Inside the Orion Nebula (2014 Apr 08) Image Credit: R. Villaverde, Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140408.html Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the above deep image composite in assigned colors taken by the Hubble Space Telescope wisps and sheets of dust and gas are particularly evident. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye near the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars known as the Trapezium, the Orion Nebula contains many stellar nurseries. These nurseries contain much hydrogen gas, hot young stars, proplyds, and stellar jets spewing material at high speeds. Also known as M42, the Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. http://www.flickr.com/photos/113243238@N08/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140408 #APOD

APOD: Two Rings for Asteroid Chariklo (2014 Apr 09) Video Illustration Credit: Lucie Maquet, Observatoire de Paris, LESIA http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140409.html http://vimeo.com/90101198 Explanation: Asteroids can have rings. In a surprising discovery announced two weeks ago, the distant asteroid 10199 Chariklo was found to have at least two orbiting rings. Chariklo's diameter of about 250 kilometers makes it the largest of the measured centaur asteroids, but now the smallest known object to have rings. The centaur-class minor planet orbits the Sun between Saturn and Uranus. The above video gives an artist's illustration of how the rings were discovered. As Chariklo passed in 2013 in front of a faint star, unexpected but symmetric dips in the brightness of the star revealed the rings. Planetary astronomers are now running computer simulations designed to investigate how Chariklo's unexpected ring system might have formed, how it survives, and given the asteroid's low mass and close passes of other small asteroids and the planet Uranus, how long it may last. http://www.obspm.fr/-observatoire-de-paris-.html?lang=en http://www.obspm.fr/-lesia-.html?lang=en http://lesia.obspm.fr/ Starship Asterisk* • APOD Discussion Page http://asterisk.apod.com/discuss_apod.php?date=140409 #APOD

5 Sky Events This Week: Lunar Wall, Mars Up-Close, and a Blue Giant

Changing Planet<p>This composite illustration shows Neptune as seen from its moon Triton. Neptune’s south pole is to the left; clearly visible in the planet’s southern hemisphere is the Great Dark Spot. Credit: NASA<p><b>Fantastic fault lines and planetary close encounters this week offer sky-watchers some</b> …

Origin of Antarctica’s eerie Blood Falls

New work confirms zones of liquid salt water hundreds of meters below the bright red waterfall in icy Antarctica, known as Blood Falls.<p>Blood Falls is …

University of Tennessee

NASA Image Shows Volcanic Island Has Annexed Its Neighbor

There's some new, pristine real estate on the remote Japanese island of Nishino-shima.<p>Volcanic activity has merged the tiny island with a new neighbor that started to form late last year, creating a single landmass, NASA satellite imagery shows. The island is now a bit more than a half-mile …

Has Fusion Finally Solved Its Hype Problem?

Omar Hurricane studies nuclear fusion at the National Ignition Facility in Livermore, Calif. In February Hurricane's lab took the biggest step toward fusion energy yet. He tells PopMech how today's goals and breakthroughs have taken a sharp turn from the hype and pipe-dream promises of the …

The Navy Wants To Fire Its Ridiculously Strong Railgun From The Ocean

They want to test firing it from a ship in 2016, and again in 2018.<p>In 2016, the U.S. Navy is going to test a railgun—a weapon that can repeatedly launch a projectile at more than 5,000 MPH—from a boat. In 2018, they're going to do it again. And in the 2020s, the Navy is going to figure out just …

Don't Miss Tonight's 'Opposition Of Mars,' An Event That Only Happens Every Two Years

The "opposition of Mars" means that skywatchers will be able to see Mars throughout the night as it rises in the eastern sky at sunset, moves nearly overhead at midnight, and sets at sunrise, according to NASA.<p>The Red Planet will be really easy to see with the naked eye, shining 10 times brighter …

How Earth got its tectonic plates

If you've ever felt the earth shudder beneath your feet during an earthquake, you're no stranger to the effects of Earth's ever-roaming tectonic plates.<p>While scientists have linked the movements of these rigid, puzzle-piece slabs to our planet's most violent events -- quakes, tsunamis, volcanic …