Just say no to artist’s illustrations. This is what the Universe actually looks like.
The Universe we observe often surpasses our greatest imaginings.
Here are 10 genuine photos that might surpass yours.
10.) Protoplanetary disks with gaps. Planetesimals accrete material from surrounding orbits, creating gaps where planets arise.
9.) Snowy weather on comets. The ESA’s Rosetta mission witnessed cometary “snow” firsthand.
8.) Exo-Jupiters are directly imaged. Observing nearby, face-on systems reveals sufficiently well-separated gas giants.
7.) Interior moons carve “waves” in Saturn’s rings. Temporary moons and moonlets form via accretion, perturbing nearby materials.
6.) Volcanoes on Neptune’s largest moon, Triton. Some 50 dark plumes — cryovolcanoes — were seen on Triton by NASA’s Voyager 2.
5.) Saturn’s moon Iapetus is two dramatically different colors. Phoebe, an outer, captured moon, offgasses, darkening Iapetus’s “forward”-moving hemisphere.
4.) Jupiter’s moon Io occulted by Europa. Io, our most volcanically active world, was observed by the Large Binocular Telescope right as Europa transited it.
3.) A ‘horseshoe’ in space. Massive objects bend spacetime, creating gravitational lenses, stretching background galaxies into near-perfect “Einstein rings.”
2.) The Red Rectangle Nebula. Late-stage, massive stars eject hydrogen gas, where gravity, ionization, shocks, companions, and radiation sculpt these diffuse outflows.
1.) A blue Martian sunset. NASA’s Curiosity rover captured blue sunsets on the red planet. Its next-generation successor, Perseverance, arrives on February 18, 2021.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.
Starts With A Bang is written by Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., author of Beyond The Galaxy, and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.