The Sun and Inner Planets Moving Through Space
(Movies of jets from young stars at HubbleSite: here)
If you’re like me and maybe a little confused as to what you’re looking at, here’s some more detail (Yes, even Joe has to look stuff up sometimes):
As a star is formed from collapsing dust, ever increasing its density and energy, it begins to form a disk of dust and gas pulled in and rotated by its growing gravity. Perpendicular to this disk, like the tip of a spinning top, some gas is ejected away from the growing star in a high-energy jet. As this collides with interstellar gas, it gives off radiation, which we can observe with telescopes like Hubble.
To see the jets, we have to shift into the infrared and other spectra, as the radiation is outside normal human vision. These movies represent the first time we’ve seen the dynamics of the jets as opposed to still images. More info on protostellar jets here, you star-freaks.
Supermassive Black Hole at Work
Back in 2010, astronomers witnessed an explosion of light from a star that was obliterated by a supermassive black hole. This is an accurate computer simulation of the event that took place.
1980: Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is aired, inspiring a whole generation of astronomers, astronauts and scientists.