Observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed an unexpected spiral structure in the material around the old star “R Sculptoris.” This feature has never been seen before and is probably caused by a hidden companion star orbiting the star. This slice through the new ALMA data reveals the shell around the star, which shows up as the outer circular ring, as well as a very clear spiral structure in the inner material.
This new Hubble image, captured and released to celebrate the telescope’s 23rd year in orbit, shows part of the sky in the constellation of Orion (The Hunter). Rising like a giant seahorse from turbulent waves of dust and gas is the Horsehead Nebula, otherwise known as Barnard 33.
/ESA,NASA, AND THE HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM (AURA/STSCI)
High-resolution photos of lava flows on Mars reveal coiling spiral patterns that resemble snail or nautilus shells. Such patterns have been found in a few locations on Earth, but never before on Mars. The discovery, made by Arizona State University graduate student Andrew Ryan, is announced in a paper published April 27, 2012, in the scientific journal Science.
In the past, a few scientists have argued that the plates in Elysium are in fact underlain by water ice.
Assessing those claims that ice was present today beneath the lava plates drove Ryan to study the area. “My initial goal,” he says, “was to model the nighttime infrared temperatures of the plates. Then I became fascinated by the terrain lying between the plates and the high-centered polygonal patterns found there.” This led him to look closely at every available image of the region.
On Earth, lava coils can be found on the Big Island of Hawaii, mainly on the surface of ropey pahoehoe lava flows. They have also been seen in submarine lava flows near the Galapagos Rift on the Pacific Ocean floor.
As Ryan explains, “The coils form on flows where there’s a shear stress – where flows move past each other at different speeds or in different directions. Pieces of rubbery and plastic lava crust can either be peeled away and physically coiled up – or wrinkles in the lava’s thin crust can be twisted around.”
Similarly, he notes that scientists have documented the formation of rotated pieces of oceanic crust at mid-ocean ridge spreading centers. “Since the surface of active lava lakes, such as those on Hawaii, can have crustal activity like spreading centers do, it’s conceivable that lava coils may form there in a similar way, but at a smaller scale.”
The size of Martian lava coils came as a surprise. “On Mars the largest lava coil is 30 meters across – that’s 100 feet. That’s bigger than any known lava coils on Earth,” he says. Ryan and Christensen’s work has inventoried nearly 200 lava coils in the Cerberus Palus region alone.
SPOOKY EYES: These ice-blue eyes are the centers of merging galaxies, NGC 2207 and IC 2163, with their spiral arms forming a mask. They have been interacting for around 40 million years in the Canis Major constellation about 140 million light-years away. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI/Vassar)
Deep Space: NGC 6960 - The Witch’s Broom by Robert Franke (USA). Part of the Veil Nebula, the ‘Witch’s Broom’ is the glowing debris from a supernova explosion – the violent death of a massive star. Although the supernova occurred several thousand years ago, the gaseous debris is still expanding outwards, producing this vast cloud-like structure. In this image narrowband filters have been used to greatly increase detail while giving a reasonable representation of the nebula’s colour.Picture: Robert Franke