Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fantastic Astronomy

I stumbled across a couple of articles today that really fired my sense of wonder.

As you read this article about early galaxies, think about what these people are doing.  Compare the number of years ago to the number of years after the Big Bang.  They're looking back at galaxies that existed before anything that even seems real to us existed, and they're telling us what those galaxies are made of.  Then they go on to talk about some of the many things we still don't know.  I'm reminded of some of the other early-universe cosmology stuff I've read, descriptions of an unbelievably alien reality.  It's thrilling stuff.

Earliest Known Galaxies Spied in Deep Hubble Picture
Anne Minard for National Geographic News, January 5, 2010

Compact, ultra-blue galaxies spied for the first time in the deep universe are the most distant—and therefore the youngest—galaxies anyone has ever seen, astronomers announced today...

On this next one, check out some of the anomalies they found.  My mind runs to wildly fantastic explanations, like maybe the "styrofoam" planet is a living thing with a complex cell structure circulating hot, light gasses like blood throughout its enormous body.  Somewhere out there, though, is the real answer, which I expect to be less rich in comic-booky fun, but just as interesting.  In any case, it's awesome that there are so many planets out there, and that so many other solar systems are so different from our own.

Five New Planets Found; Hotter Than Molten Lava
Victoria Jaggard in Washington, D.C., National Geographic News, January 4, 2010

Five new planets have been found orbiting distant stars—the first confirmed new worlds from NASA's recently launched Kepler space telescope mission, astronomers announced today...

The universe is fantastic.  It burns my brain trying to put even the watered-down details into one imaginary construct but, I have to say, I love the runner's high that the effort brings.

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