Music. Tea. Justice. (Bitey mad lady with a love of physics, food, and fiction, and a hyper-literate prog rock soundtrack.)
Staring Into Galactic Infinity
The European Space Organization (ESO) has just released the stunning photo above. At first glance, its just another fine piece of star porn, beautiful little glowing dots and clouds, like so many others whose images we have captured in our quest to catalogue the observable universe.
But this one is special.
This is a nine-gigapixel image was taken using a telescope that looks into the infrared, allowing us to see through the dusty galactic arms. The view is of the galactic center of the Milky Way, our home. That means somewhere in the glowing center lies a black hole, and we are here, rotating around it. The photo marks the largest catalogue of Milky Way stars ever assembled.
If you made counting all of the 84 million objects so far identified in this picture a full-time job, counting 16 hours per day at a comfortable pace, it would take you somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 years to finish. If it were printed at book resolution, that image would be 9 meters tall and 7 meters wide.
And this is less than 1% of the whole sky. In just our own galaxy.
Known in the weather world as a circumhorizontal arc, this rare sight was caught on film on June 23 as it hung over Boise, Idaho. It lasted about 1/2 hour.
The arc isn’t a rainbow — it is caused by light passing through wispy, high-altitude cirrus clouds. The sight occurs only when the sun is very high in the sky (more than 58° above the horizon). What’s more, the hexagonal ice crystals that make up cirrus clouds must be shaped like thick plates with their faces parallel to the ground.
When light enters through a vertical side face of such an ice crystal and leaves from the bottom face, it refracts, or bends, in the same way that light passes through a prism. If a cirrus’s crystals are aligned just right, the whole cloud lights up in a spectrum of colors.
Copyright: Brad Viets
A fallstreak hole, also known as a hole punch cloud is a large circular gap that can appear in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds. Such holes are formed when the water temperature in the clouds is below freezing but the water has not frozen yet due to the lack of ice nucleation particles. When a portion of the water does start to freeze it will set off a domino effect, due to the Bergeron process, causing the water vapor around it to freeze and fall to the earth as well. This leaves a large, often circular, hole in the cloud.*
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