Author Archives: Chompsky

Sunspots are much cooler than the surrounding solar surface because the magnetic fields that create them reduce convective heating. But you knew that. So why are the regions above them hundreds of times hotter? To wit:

To help find the cause, NASA directed the Earth-orbiting Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite to point its very sensitive X-ray telescope at the Sun. Featured here is the Sun in ultraviolet light, shown in a red hue as taken by the orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Superimposed in false-coloured green and blue is emission above sunspots detected by NuSTAR in different bands of high-energy X-rays, highlighting regions of extremely high temperature. Clues about the Sun’s atmospheric heating mechanisms come from NuSTAR images like this and shed light on solar nanoflares and microflares as brief bursts of energy that may drive the unusual heating.

(Image: NASA, NuSTAR, SDO)


Behold: the Pyros Panopoulos Chaos Zero Gravity. Not a supercar, not even a hypercar, the Chaos is – according to its creator – the world’s first ‘ultracar’. 

Designed by Greek drag racing engine builder Spyros Panopoulos, the Chaos offers minimal ground clearance and near science-fiction level performance. To wit: 3,064bhp, acceleration to 100km/h in 1.55 seconds and on to 200km/h 1.7 seconds later.

Almost every component has been 3D printed to ensure precision, aerodynamic flow, minimum weight and maximum power. The top speed, courtesy of a V10 single block magnesium alloy engine, is 500km/h.

Yours in early 2022 for a trifling €12.35 million.


Behold: the 1988 Cizeta-Moroder V16T – the only product of Cizeta Automobili SRL – styled by Marcelo Gandini and created as a joint venture by by auto-engineer Claudio Zampolli, 80s electro legend Giorgio Moroder and a team of ex-Lamborghini engineers.

This vehicle – chassis number 001 – is the original prototype of the 1991-1995 production run and the only one bearing the Moroder name as the composer pulled out of the project in 1990, taking 001 with him.

Up for auction – fully reconditioned and roadworthy – next January in Phoenix, Arizona if you’re passing.


Behold: the Cat’s Eye, aka NGC 6543 – one of brightest and most detailed planetary nebula known – composed of gas expelled in the brief, glorious death throes of a Sun-like star. To wit:

This nebula‘s dying central star may have produced the outer circular concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions. The formation of the beautiful, complex-yet-symmetric inner structures, however, is not well understood. The featured image is a composite of a digitally sharpened Hubble Space Telescope image with X-ray light captured by the orbiting Chandra Observatory. The exquisite floating space statue spans over half a light-year across. Of course, gazing into this Cat’s Eye, humanity may well be seeing the fate of our sun, destined to enter its own planetary nebula phase of evolution … in about 5 billion years.

(Image: NASA, ESA, Hubble Legacy Archive; Chandra X-ray Obs.; Processing & Copyright: Rudy Pohl)


Behold: the BMW R100 ‘Budzogan’ – a custom rebuild by Slovakian modifier EARTH Motorcycles.

Upgrades to the 1983 donor bike include custom engine guards, blacked-out spoked wheels, keyless ignition and a diamond-stitched leather saddle on a one-off subframe strong enough for two-up riding. the R100’s 980cc boxer twin engine has also been overhauled with a bespoke exhaust system and titanium muffler.

Retaining a stock tank with shop logos, the bike has scrambler bars set in machined top triples and risers with hand-sewn leather grips matching the seat and  bar-end LED indicators.

Only for looking at, unless you fancy commissioning one.


Behold: the Milky Way and a waterfall. Seems like a simple enough juxtaposition, but not so. To wit:

The dream was to capture both the waterfall and the Milky Way together. Difficulties included finding a good camera location, artificially illuminating the waterfall and the surrounding valley effectively, capturing the entire scene with numerous foreground and background shots, worrying that fireflies would be too distracting, keeping the camera dry, and avoiding stepping on a poisonous snake. […] The waterfall is the picturesque Zhulian waterfall in the Luoxiao Mountains in eastern Hunan Province, China. The central band of our Milky Way Galaxy crosses the sky and shows numerous dark dust filaments and colourful nebulas. Bright stars dot the sky — all residing in the nearby Milky Way — including the Summer Triangle with bright Vega visible above the Milky Way’s arch. After capturing all 78 component exposures for you to enjoy, the photographer and friends enjoyed the view themselves for the rest of the night.

(Image: Xie Jie)


Behold: the Tatamel – a folding electric motorbike concept from Japanese startup Icoma.

Classed as a moped, it’s capable of transforming into a small square that can be stowed under a desk and then moved outside on rollers built into the frame. With full front and rear suspension and a 600W motor it’s good for 40km/h and 50km of range. 


Behold: the vast cosmic bubble of Sharpless 2-308, aka, the Dolphin Head nebula – blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star. To wit:

…it lies some 5,000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive star evolution. Fast winds from this Wolf-Rayet star create the bubble-shaped nebula as they sweep up slower moving material from an earlier phase of evolution. The windblown nebula has an age of about 70,000 years. Relatively faint emission captured by narrowband filters in the deep image is dominated by the glow of ionised oxygen atoms mapped to a blue hue.

(Image: Nik Szymanek)


Behold: the 2011 Ferrari 599 SA Aperta – built to celebrate the 80th anniversary of Carrozzeria Pininfarina, it’s the rarest and most collectible Ferrari of the 21st century (thus far).

Only 80 of these 661bhp 6.0l V12 sportscars were built for Ferrari’s most dedicated clients and this one is further rarified with gold fleck Nero Stellato paintwork and an orange Hermes leather interior.

Up for auction next month with bids starting at €800,000.


Behold: the Suzuki DR Z-400SM – or rather a one-off cosmetic redux of the high performance supermoto’s somewhat dated styling by bespoke hogsmith oneYedeer.

Stripped down to its chassis, the donor bike has been extensively refitted with (among many other things) a Yamaha SR500 tank, Ducati scrambler headlight, a Honda ST70 Dax front fender, the radiator off a Honda CBR500, new fork guards, and a custom, two-level hooped subframe with integrated LED strip taillights.

Not for sale, only for looking at.