Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Ladybugs swarm because they're looking for a warm place to hibernate for winter. They hibernate in clusters. When one of them finds a suitable place, it releases a pheromone that attracts a couple gazillion more of them. In fact, the pheromone can keep the ladybugs coming back year after year.
Monday, February 27, 2017
Star HR 8799 was born about the same time as humanity's ancestors — 60 million years ago, after the dinosaurs went extinct and the age of animals that would lead to our evolution was just beginning here on Earth. It's 129 light years away from us, tucked toward the front legs of the constellation Pegasus. It's so close and so brilliant (five times brighter than our own sun) that on a clear night it can easily be spotted by the naked eye.
In 2008, scientists discovered three planetary companions circling within a dusty disk that surrounds the star, just as the nine planets of our solar system are encircled by the Kuiper belt. And they took a picture. It tied for the first direct image ever taken of planets outside our celestial neighborhood.
Further observation uncovered another planet. And now, we can watch all four in motion.
This three-second animation is the result of seven years of work by Jason Wang, an astronomy graduate student at the University of California, who compiled dozens of images taken by the W.M. Keck observatory in Hawaii to create the digital equivalent of a flip book.
The black circle at the middle is a result of the device used to block the light from the star so that scientists could detect the much fainter gleam of its nearby planets.
The four glowing globes that orbit it are HR 8799's planets. This animation does not show their full orbits — the planets are so far from their star that it would take more than four centuries to create that video.
But this is a snapshot of four alien worlds orbiting a distant sun. And that's pretty incredible.
Story via WP:https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/01/27/watch-four-alien-worlds-orbit-a-distant-star/?utm_term=.2c73e8bc894b
For 360 degrees, a view along the plane of the ecliptic is captured in this remarkable panorama, with seven planets in a starry sky. The mosaic was constructed using images taken during January 24-26, from Nacpan Beach, El Nido in Palawan, Philippines. It covers the eastern horizon (left) in dark early morning hours and the western horizon in evening skies. While the ecliptic runs along the middle traced by a faint band of zodiacal light, the Milky Way also cuts at angles through the frame.
Clouds and the Moon join fleeting planet Mercury in the east. Yellowish Saturn, bright star Antares, and Jupiter lie near the ecliptic farther right. Hugging the ecliptic near center are Leo's alpha star Regulus and star cluster M44. The evening planets gathered along the ecliptic above the western horizon, are faint Uranus, ruddy Mars, brilliant Venus, and even fainter Neptune.
Image and info via APODhttps://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html
Image Credit & Copyright: Tunç Tezel (TWAN)