Does the closest star to our Sun have planets? No one is sure — but you can now follow frequent updates of a new search that is taking place during the first few months of this year. The closest star, Proxima Centauri, is the nearest member of the Alpha Centauri star system.
Light takes only 4.24 years to reach us from Proxima Centauri. This small red star, captured in the center of the featured image by the Hubble Space Telescope, is so faint that it was only discovered in 1915 and is only visible through a telescope. Telescope-created X-shaped diffraction spikes surround Proxima Centauri, while several stars further out in our Milky Way Galaxy are visible in the background.
The brightest star in the Alpha Centauri system is quite similar to our Sun, has been known as long as recorded history, and is the third brightest star in the night sky. The Alpha Centauri system is primarily visible from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere.
Starting last week, the European Southern Observatory’s Pale Red Dot project began investigating slight changes in Proxima Centauri to see if they result from a planet — possibly an Earth-sized planet. Although unlikely, were a modern civilization found living on a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, its proximity makes it a reasonable possibility that humanity could communicate with them.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
The hydrogen in your body, present in every molecule of water, came from the Big Bang. There are no other appreciable sources of hydrogen in the universe.
The carbon in your body was made by nuclear fusion in the interior of stars, as was the oxygen. Much of the iron in your body was made during supernovas of stars that occurred long ago and far away. The gold in your jewelry was likely made from neutron stars during collisions that may have been visible as short-duration gamma-ray bursts.
Elements like phosphorus and copper are present in our bodies in only small amounts but are essential to the functioning of all known life.
The featured periodic table is color coded to indicate humanity’s best guess as to the nuclear origin of all known elements. The sites of nuclear creation of some elements, such as copper, are not really well known and are continuing topics of observational and computational research.
Image Credit: Cmglee (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons
Gigantic polished sphere of petrified wood approximately 12″ in diameter.
Petrified wood is the name given to a special type of fossilized remains of terrestrial vegetation. It is the result of a tree or tree-like plants having completely transitioned to stone by the process of permineralization.
All the organic materials have been replaced with minerals (mostly a silicate, such as quartz), while retaining the original structure of the stem tissue. Unlike other types of fossils which are typically impressions or compressions, petrified wood is a three-dimensional representation of the original organic material.
The petrifaction process occurs underground, when wood becomes buried under sediment or volcanic ash and is initially preserved due to a lack of oxygen which inhibits aerobic decomposition. Mineral-laden water flowing through the covering material deposits minerals in the plant’s cells; as the plant’s lignin and cellulose decay, a stone mold forms in its place. [source]
An impressive illustrated image of the observable Universe with our Solar System at the center.
The image created by musician and artist Pablo Carlos Budassi, is based on logarithmic maps of the Universe put together by Princeton University researchers, and from images produced by NASA’s telescopes and spacecrafts.
Image credit Pablo Carlos Budassi
A very interesting infographic, with some practical strategies that you can use in your home, to savemoney on your utility bills.
You’ve heard enough about LED lights and turning your thermostat down for one lifetime.
Here a simple checklist that will save you money on your home, without having to replace your light bulbs:
The 26th edition of the 55-room Icehotel has opened in the Arctic Circle, in Sweden.
The Icehotel, located near the town of Jukkasjärvi, in Swedish Lapland, is built as every winter, from ice and snow. This year individually hand crafted art suites, themed around animals and films, designed by artists from around the world.