Outer Wilds begins around a fire, like so many of the best stories do. When you step towards the crackling flames, you're offered a surprisingly whimsical option: press X to roast a marshmallow. Why not? You transform the sugary orb into a ball of flame. When you step back, however, you see that the world is about to get far, far bigger than a campfire, or even a planet. You're sitting at the base of a rocketship, as a nearby engineer explains that you're the astronaut about to blast off into space.[more inside]
All you need are the launch codes, and after a leisurely detour through your home planet where you pick up a few essential piloting skills, you suit up, buckle in, and launch your craft triumphantly into space, ready to explore the wonders of the universe.
Then the sun explodes.
Astronomers using the Hubble space telescope have discovered four images of the same supernova arranged in an Einstein Cross. They've released pictures and a video to explain what we're looking at. [more inside]
Worried about when Betelgeuse will go supernova? Worry no more.
There's a new light in the night sky. Around 12 million years ago, a star exploded in the galaxy M82. The light reached earth today. [more inside]
In the UK Guardian: Eight passages of raunchy prose are in contention for Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award. [some passages are ikky to read] [more inside]
The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
Through the examination of carbon-14 formation in tree rings (abstract, main article paywalled), scientists have concluded that about 1200 years ago, the earth was bombarded by intense high radition, as if from a solar flare or supernova. The problem? Such an event would've been highly visible and documented at the time, and scientists were unaware of of any such record. At least until an ungrad in biochemistry googled it for them. [more inside]
Supernova Sonata by Alex Parker From April, 2003 until August, 2006, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope watched four parts of the sky as often as possible. Armed with the largest digital camera in the known universe, CFHT monitored these four fields for a special type of supernova (called Type Ia) which are created by the thermonuclear detonation of one or more white-dwarf stars. Each supernova is assigned a note to be played: The volume of the note is determined by the distance to the supernova, with more distant supernova being quieter and fainter. The pitch of the note was determined by the supernova’s “stretch,” a property of how the supernova brightens and fades. Higher stretch values played higher notes. The pitches were drawn from a Phrygian dominant scale. The instrument the note was played on was determined by the properties of the galaxy which hosted each supernova. Supernovae hosted by massive galaxies are played with a stand-up bass, while supernovae hosted by less massive galaxies are played with a grand piano.
Back in January, Dr. Megan Argo and an international team working at Jodrell Bank detected a powerful jet of energy from supernova 2007gr. Her way of announcing it? Doctor Who fan fiction describing the event from a TARDIS eye view. [via]
New burst vaporizes cosmic distance record. "NASA's Swift satellite and an international team of astronomers have found a gamma-ray burst from a star that died when the universe was only 630 million years old, or less than five percent of its present age. The event, dubbed GRB 090423, is the most distant cosmic explosion ever seen."
“Here was an object brand new. At first we didn’t recognize it.” Dr. Alicia Soderberg on the discovery of Supernova 2008D, using the Swift satellite telescope....
Life (Briefly) Near a Supernova (pdf, Google cache) by Steven Dutch (UW-Green Bay). What might it be like on a planet orbiting a star that went supernova? "It would take on the order of 100,000 seconds, or about a day, to receive enough energy to vaporize the Earth." Yes, Arthur C. Clarke and Larry Niven are name-checked. (And yes, the Sun is too small to actually go supernova, killjoy.) Via the nonist.
Odd Supernova Amateur and professional astronomers rejoice , point your telescopes at RA: 03:21:39.71 Dec: +16:52:02.6 to watch a new phenomenon that could turn into a supernova explosion
Instant Suntan. A supernova in our galactic backyard may be on the verge of exploding. In the (unlikely) event that it happens tomorrow, how would you spend your last day on earth?