There’s lots of interesting news these days from really faraway places; if you’re interested in such things, you should subscribe to two of the newsletters I get: one published by NASA, and the other from Spaceweather.com.
There are three stories I’ll mention tonight.
The first concerns a pretty big find: a rocky planet orbiting its star at just the right distance to support liquid water. It’s not Twin Earth — the planet orbits a weak red star at a much closer distance than Earth’s orbit, and it is half again as large, with a gravitational field at its surface that would be about twice what we’re used to — but it’s by far the closest we’ve come, and it’s right in our backyard, by interstellar standards: only about twenty light-years away. Very exciting stuff. You can read about it here, or here.
The other two items are remarkable new images. The first is from the Japan’s new Hinode space-based solar telescope, and shows an enormous solar flare in progress. It’s mind-boggling to look at these images of the Sun; our familiar friend is a place of terrifying beauty that our ancestors could never have imagined. I’ll remind readers of two earlier posts in which I linked to fabulous solar images: the more recent was this item, which featured a huge, swirling magnetic storm — but even better is this earlier post, which links to one of the most amazing photos I’ve ever seen. (Be sure to view it full-size.)
Finally, there’s a new snapshot from the Hubble, which is celebrating its 17th anniversary: a view of the Carina Nebula, which is a highly active region surrounding the enormous dying star Eta Carinae (which, by the way, I’ve also mentioned previously, here). Enjoy.