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Remember yesterday's astro-image? Well, here's another shot of that tumultuous star, and it's getting ready to go supernova:

Click the image to see the story.

And because showing another image of the same object is kinda cheating, a bonus astro-image: Ceres and Vesta, our two biggest asteroids. Amazingly detailed image of them!

Click the image to see the story.

Ceres and Vesta are, respectively, only around 950 kilometers and 530 kilometers in diameter - about the size of Texas and Arizona.

But they are two of the largest of over 100,000 minor bodies orbiting in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

These remarkably detailed Hubble Space Telescope images show brightness and color variations across the surface of the two small worlds.

The variations could represent large scale surface features or areas of different compositon.

The Hubble image data will help astronomers plan for a visit by the asteroid-hopping Dawn spacecraft, scheduled for launch on July 7 and intended to orbit first Vesta and then Ceres after a four year interplanetary cruise.

Though Shakespeare might not have been impressed, nomenclature introduced by the International Astronomical
Union in 2006 classifies nearly spherical Ceres as a dwarf planet.

Best,
Chris

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Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
bodandra
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Wow ... so much goes on outside of our little planet!
Thank you for posting these ... I've pretty much been amazed and interested in what's out there all my life, My dad got me started on it, taking me outside to look at the stars since I was 7 or 8 years old.
mckitterick
Jun. 22nd, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Re: Wow ... so much goes on outside of our little planet!
Ever since I can remember, I've gazed up at the stars and planets and Moon and Sun and been filled with wonder. I love-love-love how living in the Space Age opens so many windows - like those above - to what's out there.
renegade500
Jun. 22nd, 2007 07:23 pm (UTC)
I'm amused that the article about Eta Carinae says it could blow today or in 100,000 years. Makes one feel rather small to think how insignificant a time that is, cosmologically speaking.
mckitterick
Jun. 22nd, 2007 08:02 pm (UTC)
Exactly! I love the sense of scale one gets when reading something like that, where "any day" cosmologically speaking could span such a time.

They should also mention that having a supernova go off that close could bring down all manner of hell on our modern electronic world.
renegade500
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
They should also mention that having a supernova go off that close could bring down all manner of hell on our modern electronic world.

Well, then perhaps it'll kindly wait until a little closer to 100,000 years from now. :-)
mckitterick
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:10 pm (UTC)
Y'know, there's a story in that: 100,000 years from now, we are post-human uploaded personality constructs. Supernova goes BOOM. All of humanity is wiped out except for the Luddites, who rebuild society.
renegade500
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:14 pm (UTC)
What, no backup in a super-secure-from-supernova-bad-stuff bunker?! Doh!
mckitterick
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
I believe that cosmic rays can penetrate the Earth, itself. We'll need to build Mega-Unobtanium bunkers! But then how will we communicate with the rest of the universe? That little, hardened, fiber-optic line leading out will be our downfall! Else we will need to isolate from the rest of the universe. If so, is that better than extinction? And how, exactly, would it be different from going extinct?
renegade500
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
Well, that is a bit of a sticky problem. I will ponder it on my hour-long Friday afternoon commute home (damn, those few days in Lawrence spoiled me!).
pamelonian
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
That detail is amazing. I wonder if those are "ice spots" like on Mars.
mckitterick
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
Wouldn't that be cool?
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )