Monday, April 27, 2009



No this is not one of those end of the world horror speculations, the good Mayan astronomers aside. I am writing about the increasing new revelations and discoveries that are bursting forth from our expanded and innovative new cosmological research.

The image on the left of Chandra's view of Cassiopea A, the youngest supernova in the Milky Way, is a current example of this combination revelation and discovery. It is a discovery because we have just observed it. It is a revelation because it has been here for a long time.

Another example is a combined cosmological and chemical analysis of what we could consider a stellar life cycle. This study is courtesy of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. To view an image presentation of this concept, you may click here. The illustration's depiction of the showering of probiotic material onto a planet enters the realm of astrobiology.

Additionally, the deep space probe that captured a gamma ray burst (actually more like an explosion) over 13 billion light years distance is an example of our increasing ability to witness (albeit belatedly) a major cosmological event that directly impacted the universe. Of course in the next decade the exo-planet discoveries by the Kepler probe as well as those from the Corot Space telescope are going to intensify our investigations into what critieria certify an Earth twin. These efforts will also include efforts to determine the extent the Earth-twin has the ability to support or is actually supporting life.

The above are just minimal examples of the immense cosmological research that is underway. You may click here to see a current listing of research projects at the Harvard center. It is expected to steadily increase as more discoveries occur.

So, why do I label this as shock and awe? For the general public these revelations can be both amazing and unsettling as we are forced to reconsider our perceptions about our home, Earth, and the universe in which we reside. For the scientific community, there is ongoing shock and awe as old theories get either revised or tossed aside and new discoveries introduce views of the universe that open entirely new concepts and theories. This latter cognitive evolution is, in my opinion, accompanied by frequent awe.

All of this is good and should be considered as part of humankind's intellectual evolution. This is an essential stimulus for our ongoing progress. In other words, we are not done yet!

My Celestia (c) 2009 Waddell Robey - All individual copyrights apply.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


The image on the left, courtesy of NASA/JPL and the Chandra spacecraft, displays a recent capture of what I am terming "celestial mating" rather than the usual terminology. By the way, the circles and letters are there to identify the individual galaxy clusters that are involved in this reproductive drama. To learn more, you may click here and here if you wish.

Hmm, celestial mating and reproductive drama am I anthropomorphizing space? Yes and no. I say yes with respect to explaining what is really happening when galaxies, of any number and size, come together. No, in the sense that they are far more powerful, more beautiful, and more vital to the universe than we mere humans.

Perhaps the most realistic term would be regeneration of the universe. In my humble opinion it is this dramatic, dynamic and often explosive merging or mating process that produces whole new populations of stars and eventually, for some, their gathering of orbiting dust, debris and planets. As we know, we are now pretty certain that many of those extra-solar bodies may be habitable planets that contain life. So mating, like Earth's own biological replenishment process, is what is happening in the universe - replenishment. I consider this encouraging and it strengthens my belief in both the dynamism and permanency of this energy system we call "universe."

Yes, there is, just like with us, birth, life, and death in the universe. The logic is stunning and also reassuring. Again, in my mind, it is an essential process that produces both endurance and stability in our lives and that of the universe. We humans are, of course, energy systems, and we essentially obey all the same rules as our celestial hosts. That's right we are components of celestial stability and balance. Miniscule yes, but we are still essential.

So, look up in awe, in humility, and with reassurance. We are needed. In that respect, we might want to consider doing a better job of preserving our host energy source - planet Earth and the solar system in which it resides.

My Celestia (c) 2009 Waddell Robey. All individual copyrights apply.