Category Archives: Science

In the first of a three-part series, German educational design studio Kurzgesagt (and here’s why you should trust what they say) explores the origins of consciousness and takes a closer look at how unaware things became aware.

Previously: Lonely?

Behold: spiral galaxy Messier 106 –  a swirling disk of stars and gas dominated by blue spiral arms and red dust lanes near the nucleus. To wit:

The core of M106 glows brightly in radio waves and X-rays where twin jets have been found running the length of the galaxy. An unusual central glow makes M106 one of the closest examples of the Seyfert class of galaxies, where vast amounts of glowing gas are thought to be falling into a central massive black holeM106, also designated NGC 4258, is a relatively close 23.5 million light years away, spans 60 thousand light years across, and can be seen with a small telescope towards the constellation of the Hunting Dogs (Canes Venatici).

(Image Credit: NASAESO , NAOJ, Giovanni Paglioli; Assembling and Processing: R. Colombari and R. Gendler)


A 2018 audio-visual work by Belgian artist Joanie Lemercier that explores the vastness of the Cosmos using 3D orbs and morphing geometries projected onto water particles over a rippling water surface with an accompanying soundscape provided by Paul Jebanasam.

Currently on a tour of the Universe, starting on Earth.


A 360 degree panorama of Perseverance Valley on Mars taken last year by the Opportunity Rover. To wit:

The scene is composed of 354 individual images recorded through 3 different colour filters by the rover’s panoramic camera from May 13 through June 10, 2018. A few frames remain in black and white at the lower left though. Those were obtained through only one filter just before a dust storm engulfed Mars in June 2018, ultimately ending the solar-powered rover’s trailblazing 15 year mission. Just right of center, the annotation identifies Opportunity’s entry point to Perseverance Valley along the Endeavor crater’s western rim. The rover’s tracks begin there, extending from over the horizon toward the far right and its final resting spot on the Red Planet.

Explore the full sized image here.


Behold: IC 443, aka The Jellyfish Nebula -n a galactic supernova remnant about 5000 light years from Earth. To wit:

…the expanding debris cloud from a massive star that exploded. Light from the explosion first reached planet Earth over 30,000 years ago. Like its cousin in astrophysical waters the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, the Jellyfish Nebula is known to harbor a neutron star, the remnant of the collapsed stellar core. An emission nebula cataloged as Sharpless 249 fills the field at the upper left. The Jellyfish Nebula is about 5,000 light-years away. At that distance, this image would be about 300 light-years across.

(Processing: Dave Milne)


Two gigantic superbubbles – each one thousands of light years across – near the centre of spiral galaxy NGC 3079.

Hot? They’re so hot they emit X-rays that can be detected by NASA’s earth-orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory. To wit:

Since the bubbles straddle the center of NGC 3079, a leading hypothesis is that they were somehow created by the interaction of the central supermassive black hole with surrounding gas. Alternatively, the superbubbles might have been created primarily by the energetic winds from many young and hot stars near that galaxy’s center. The only similar known phenomenon is the gamma-ray emitting Fermi bubbles emanating from the center of our Milky Way Galaxy, discovered 10 years ago in images taken by NASA’s Fermi satellite. Research into the nature of the NGC 3079 superbubbles will surely continue, as well as searches for high-energy superbubbles in other galaxies.


Behold: NGC 6302, also known as the ‘bug’ or ‘butterfly nebula’  – a vast planetary dust cloud with a dying central star 4,000 light years from Earth in the Scorpion Constellation. This enhancement is based on an especially sharp image recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. to wit:

Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has been detected in the hot star’s dusty cosmic shroud.

(Pic: Robert Eder)


A spectacular manifestation of the Aurora Borealis this month in Iceland. The Medieval Vikings might have interpreted this as a sign from the gods. But no: science. To wit:

The aurora was caused by a hole in the Sun’s corona that expelled charged particles into a solar wind that followed a changing interplanetary magnetic field to Earth’s magnetosphere.


Sky Dragon!

(Pic: Zingyi & Wang Zang)


A new animation from German educational design studio Kurzgesagt explains why. To wit:

Everybody feels lonely sometimes. But only few of us are aware how important this feeling was for our ancestors – and that our modern world can turn it into something that really hurts us. Why do we feel this way and what can we do about it?

Previously: Horrible, Horrible Mars

Behold: NGC 2359 a cosmic cloud about 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Canis Major.commonly known as ‘Thor’s Helmet’ on account of its winglike spurs, 30 light years across. To wit:

In fact, the helmet is more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind from the bright, massive star near the bubble’s centre inflates a region within the surrounding molecular cloud. Known as a Wolf-Rayet star, the central star is an extremely hot giant thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution….The remarkably detailed image is a mixed cocktail of data from broadband and narrowband filters that captures natural looking stars and the glow of the nebula’s filamentary structures. It highlights a blue-green colour from strong emission due to oxygen atoms in the glowing gas.

(Image: Ignacio Diaz Bobillo)