December 4th, 2007

Gojira!

mummified dinosaur!

Tyler Lyson - a teen at the time - found this "mummified" fossil of a hadrosaur in 1999 on his family's ranch in North Dakota. It's called "mummified" because the fossil contains parts like skin, organs, ligaments, and other soft tissues not normally preserved in the fossilization process.

"The fossilized duckbilled hadrosaur is so well preserved that scientists have been able to calculate its muscle mass and learn that it was more muscular than thought, probably giving it the ability to outrun predators such as T. rex."

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Scientists are studying "Dakota," as it is now called, using the world's largest CT scanner, usually reserved for analyzing space shuttle engines and other large objects. Check out the skin detail:

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Chris
star-forming nebula

Astro-image of the day: cosmic cannonball RX J0822-4300

This composite of X-ray (pink) and optical (purple) images shows a "cosmic cannonball" fired from a supernova years ago and destined to escape the Milky Way. Astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory have been monitoring a neutron star for the past five years. Their observations show the neutron star moving at three million miles per hour, the fastest-moving star ever discovered:

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Neutron star RX J0822-4300 was shot on its current trajectory by the supernova that created the Puppis A nebula (the wispy area in the photo). Because the explosion was lop-sided, the star was fired in one direction and the nebula (the outer shells of the star) in the other. This photo shows where to find RX J0822-4300:

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A super-massive star goes supernova after its outer layers collapse inward, causing its core to implode, which blasts away its surface layers and forms a tiny neutron star from its core. The blasted-away material can travel at millions of miles per hour, but it does not always expand symmetrically, which could explain the cannonball effect propelling RX J0822-4300 in the opposite direction as the rest of the matter.

That there's some serious energy, folks. Cool beans.

Chris