We normally cover really big things in these pages, things like planets, stars and galaxies. But the cosmos is ultimately built from very small bits and pieces that organize themselves on a tiny scale that are at least as beautiful as anything to be seen in the night sky. This video, created by Beauty of Science, shows at an accelerated pace the formation of six kinds of crystals out of solution. Whereas many astronomical objects coalesce because of gravity, these crystals are made from a beautiful interplay of electric forces, geometry, and quantum mechanics. Quite a beautiful sight!Share This:
Science of Astronomy
Articles about the science of astronomy and objects that are visible in the night sky.
It was a discovery nearly a century in the making, but astronomers have finally detected a planet around the speedy little red dwarf known as Barnard’s Star. The existence of the planet is not particularly surprising given the vast harvest of exoplanets discovered since 1995 around all manner of stars. Nor is the planet a habitable world, to be sure. But it was welcome news nonetheless to find that the nearest single star to Earth has at least one planet in its relatively feeble gravitational embrace.
In many ways, Barnard’s Star was the “white whale” of exoplanet hunters. That’s because the star is close, just six light years away, the second-closest star system to Earth, which should make it easier to find an orbiting planet. And the star is prominent because of its speedy apparent motion across the sky. Barnard’s Star is also old, more than twice the age of our own solar system, so it’s had plenty of time to form a planetary system. But for nearly a hundred years, astronomers have examined the star for evidence of a planetary system using visual observation, photographic imaging, and finally using modern spectroscopic planet-hunting techniques. They came up empty every time [Read more…] about Barnard’s Star Has a Planet After AllShare This:
Algol, the second brightest star in the northern constellation Perseus, is the finest example of an eclipsing variable star in the entire sky. In this compact stellar system, two stars revolve around their common center of mass in a rhythmic and precise gravitational dance, and the resulting eclipse causes the brightness of the star to vary like clockwork to a degree that’s easily perceptible to the human eye. And you can watch it from your backyard. No telescope required [Read more…] about Algol, the “Demon Star”Share This:
Astronomers have a reasonably good handle on what happens during a supernova, an immense stellar detonation that occurs when a massive star that’s run out of fuel collapses and explodes with the brightness of 10 billion suns . These events are relatively rare, with just one or two each year, on average, in a galaxy the size of our Milky Way. While the math and physics of a supernova explosion are reasonably well understood, it’s up to visual artists and computer-generated imagery (CGI) experts to help us visualize a supernova explosion in all its glorious violence and complexity [Read more…] about Simulating a Supernova in an AquariumShare This:
When I first learned about the “Superman” star, a type of cataclysmic variable star, I was excited to chase it down with a telescope, and I was also excited about researching the popular and scientific literature of these fascinating stars. The more I investigated, the more I felt like I had stumbled upon a treasure trove of celestial gems to explore. My reading revealed so many types of cataclysmic variables that I was giddy with excitement about an endless stream of fascinating objects with equally fascinating astrophysics to ignite my imagination. And having the spectacular eruption of one of these intriguing stars possibly being an inspiration behind a popular fictional superhero made the exploration all the more enticing [Read more…] about The Superman StarShare This: