Does the image above look familiar? It shouldn’t, because it’s brand new. But the subject should certainly ring a bell for any space buff — it’s the same vast nebula that became one of the most beloved, coffee-table-booked, computer-wallpapered images in astronomical history. This new image of the Eagle Nebula shows the value of having space observatories that span the light spectrum.
On many a college campus are inscribed somewhere or other the words of Isaac Newton, who in 1676 said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Among those raising his stature you could probably count the people who took the young math prodigy seriously, and decided to publish his work on things like calculus and optics. The Royal Society, the world’s oldest academic publishing institution, was the first to do so.
A pair of new comet studies from two space telescopes show how other planets might grow oceans. For the first time, astronomers have detected a ring of cold water vapor encircling a young star’s dusty planetary disk. And a separate study in a different star system shows a hailstorm of icy bodies could be bombarding a young planet.
Earth’s oceans likely started out as space snowballs born far beyond the orbit of Pluto, a new study says. Water-rich comets collided with the young planet after hurtling through the nascent solar system, and probably delivered a significant amount of the water on this planet.
Herschel, the largest infrared space telescope yet flown, was launched a month ago by the ESA and was not expected to deliver images for another few weeks. It has, however, already produced images- in three colors- of M51, ‘the whirlpool galaxy,’ from a test observation run. The goal of the test was to get a large image and a sense of what Herschel will deliver in the future.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.