So, let’s look more way up there. Cosmic images provide an opportunity for us to consider some universal laws, processes and phenomenon. But also some of pretty big questions facing humans - where do we come from, and where are we going? There is much astronomy available, from a fleet of telescopes on the ground and in space. Terabytes upon terabytes of data.
Here’s an example: This is an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope of a "supernova remnant" Cassiopeia A, Cas A for short, a star that has exploded and is spewing out this hot gas about 10,000 light years away from us. If one light year is about a trillion kilometers, that’s pretty far, and we’re definitely safe from it. But in the optical image, you see delicate filamentary structure at around the 10,000 degree mark. Very lovely.
Looking at Cas A in many other kinds of light, however, and eventually you will get a more complete picture. Here, death comes alive in this X-ray image of Cas A from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (looking at material that’s Millions of degrees hot). If you start to piece things together, you can learn a lot more about the rules of the Universe.
Fitting the pieces together.
Fitting the pieces together. We can even take this a step further even and map all of the different kinds of data into 3d space to get a 3d map of this exploded star. Interestingly, we created this 3d map using software that was adapted from a medical application used to image the brain. You can download and work with our 3d data on Cas A here. http://3d.si.edu/explorer?modelid=45
What if you have 7 different cuts of light? Astronomers have used this set of single-color images, shown around the edge, to construct the color picture of a ring of star clusters surrounding the core of the galaxy NGC 1512. These pictures were taken by 3 different cameras on board Hubble. Each of the 7 images represents a specific slice of light, from ultraviolet to near infrared. Astronomers chose these colors to emphasize details in the ring of young star clusters around the core of the galaxy.
Cur iouser and Cur iouser About Mar sNASA's most recent rover on the red planet has sent a beautiful postcard from Mars. Taken just a coupleweeks after the Curiosity rover landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, the foreground shows the gravellyarea near Curiosity's landing site. In the distance is the base of the 3.4 mile-(5.5 kilometer) tall mountaincalled Mount Sharp, where the rover should eventually end up. The color scale has been enhanced inthis photo to show the Martian scene in lighting conditions similar to what we have on Earth. This colorenhancement helps the scientists who are actively analyzing the terrain from afar.Great piece on de-mosaic-ing this image: http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/2012/08241439-mastcam-bayer.html
The images I’ve showed today are all in our book, available on Amazon.com
Coloring the Universe
“Your Ticket to the Universe”
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
April 2014 @ Scituate Middle School
Coloring the Universe
You shuffle along a carpet, reach out to touch a doorknob and—zap!—a sudden flow of
current, or electric discharge, gives you a mild shock. The cause? Friction between your feet
and the carpet built up negative electric charge on your body. Electric discharges can occur
wherever there is a large build-up of electric charge, and can create spectacular displays of
sudden energy release on Earth and in space.
Atomic Light Show
Atoms, the building blocks of matter, are constantly in motion, moving around at speeds that
are thousands of miles per hour at room temperatures, and millions of miles per hour behind a
supernova shock wave. In a collision of an atom with another atom, or with a free-roaming
electron, energy can be transferred to the atom. This extra energy can then be released in the
form of a light wave.
The growth of new structures depends on the introduction of novel material into an
environment. Bees distribute pollen from one plant to another, promoting reproduction in
plants. Farmers seed and fertilize soil to enable the growth of selected crops. Oxygen, iron
and other heavy elements necessary for the formation of planets are distributed into
interstellar space by supernova explosions.