From over-budget broken telescope to photographer extraordinaire, the Hubble telescope continues its work as the workhorse of galactic imagery. Now, thanks to the Hubble’s hard work, the Tarantula Nebula is on full display for study or simple observation.
Coolest named nebula ever?
The Tarantula Nebula is as frightening in its scope as most people find its namesake. (Tarantulas are perfectly harmless, but I get it.) 30 Doradus, or the Tarantula Nebula, is home to nearly 30 stars with masses that exceed that of our sun by a factor of 100 or more in a single cluster known as R136. That cluster, with the catchy name, is about 170,000 light years from that telescope you bought but don’t use. It is, depending on whom you ask, a “star factory,” a “stellar nursery” or simply “amazing to look at when stoned.” Respectively, that would be NASA, the authors of a recent study and yours truly.
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The Large Magellanic Cloud alone plays home to nine of those aforementioned stars. It’s a bit like a trilby atop a nebula, an affectation that no one much cares about after making peace with the fact that a nebula has no business selling methamphetamine and you just like its acting.
“The Tarantula Nebula is special in comparison to its neighbors for its size and brightness,” study author Paul Crowther told The Christian Science Monitor by email. “Although our galaxy is much larger than the Tarantula Nebula, there are likely as many massive stars in that small corner of the universe as there are in the entire Milky Way galaxy.”
“With respect to the Orion Nebula, it [the Tarantula Nebula] is 100 times bigger, 100 times more distant and 1000 times brighter,” Dr. Crowther continues.
Nebulous respect is a large part of why I continue to ask Dr. Crowther to dinner parties.( I’m guessing it’s also part of why he doesn’t bother to R.S.V.P outside of reminding me about that pesky restraining order.)
The Simon Cowell effect
The Hubble shines a light on the otherwise insignificant. I don’t know that the Hubble, like Mr. Cowell, employs smoke but it surely uses mirrors. It brings things you should never have to see (or listen to) to light and makes them shine bright until the fizzle out, or have their fifteen minutes of fame.
“Massive stars are actually quite rare,” said study co-author Saida Caballero-Nieves in an email to the Monitor following the publication of the authors’ study. “However, they are still quite influential to their surroundings because they produce so much energy through radiation, strong winds and in some cases, explosive ‘deaths.”
Since the stars shine so brightly, they will also have short lifespans. Their deaths will result in black holes, reports Christina Beck of the CSM.
Don’t worry Ms. Beck, there is always another season of American Idol.
“Because they are so massive, they are all close to their so-called Eddington limit, which is the maximum luminosity a star can have before it rips itself apart,” Dr. Crowther told the BBC ahead of the publication of the paper that will appear in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “And so they’ve got really powerful outflows. They are shedding mass at a fair rate of knots.”
Again the Hubble
Without you we would be just fine. With you, we’re so much better.
Like many, I preferred the rescue from “Gilligan’s Island” to the ending of “Lost.”
Older, is simply better some times. While I like the idea of the James Webb Space Telescope (if it works when launched in 2018), I’m just fine for now with the Hubble. Thankfully, I’m not alone in my opinion.
“I think Hubble’s top discovery is that over 20 years later, we are still uncovering ?fascinating discoveries of the Universe,” says Caballero-Nieves.