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I am now in the third week of my annual February birthday fund-raising drive. The first two weeks were good, but not record-setting.


There are still two weeks left in this campaign however. If you have been a regular reader and a fan of my work and have not yet donated or subscribed, please consider doing so. I take no ads, I keep the website clean from pop-ups and annoying demands (most of the time). Thus, I depend entirely on my readers to support me. Though this means I am sacrificing some income, it also means that I remain entirely independent from outside pressure. By depending solely on donations and subscriptions from my readers, no one can threaten me with censorship. You don't like what I write, you can simply go elsewhere.


You can support me either by giving a one-time contribution or a regular subscription. There are five ways of doing so:


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Chandra looks back at the Crab Nebula

Link here. It is almost twenty years since the Chandra X-Ray Observatory was launched, and in celebration the science team have released another X-ray image of the Crab Nebula, taken in 2017 in league with an optical image from the Hubble Space Telescope and an infrared image from the Spitzer Space Telescope. They have also provided links to all similar past images, going back to 1999.

Some of the images are actually videos, in 2002 and 2011, showing the Crab’s dynamic nature. You can actually see flares and waves of radiation rippling out from its center.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Max

    Beautiful picture, the combination of the different wavelengths of light give us a more complete understanding of how different stars work.
    The illustration shows that they believe the Jets do not emanate from the rotational center. Perhaps Local Fluff can weigh in and give his thoughts on whether the bent jet is because the star is moving, or the void in The energy cloud could be caused by local fluff pressure blowing and moving the energy away from the star?

  • Localfluff

    I’m not a real astronomer! I just copy what some of them say. Misunderstandings and selectivity is my value add proposition.

    The local fluff (30 light years) is a puff of gas and stuff ejected by active young stars in the Scorpius–Centaurus Association (400 light years) surrounding the Sun in the local bubble is much smaller than the distance to the Crab Nebula (7000 light years).

    I would guess that the bending of the jet stream in that fantastic imaging of a real neutron star (such an extreme object, such an extreme form of matter!) is not caused by gravity. Rather by precession of the rotational axis of the neutron star out of which poles the jets are streaming, or radically changing magnetic fields. Neutron stars can have hard enough magnetic fields that chemistry ceases to exist in its vicinity. When all the electrons’ orbits around the atom nuclei follow parallel force field lines, no chemical interaction is possible (I think). Whatever is local to it, is not similar to the harmless gas fluff around our garden here in the Sun.

    Neutron stars are more interesting than black holes, because they exist in our universe and can be observed. They consist of real matter, and they are so weird. Like, you see both poles at the same time because the spacetime of its surface is so curved. A geometrical challenge for map projection geographers.

  • Localfluff

    Or the jet’s redirection is maybe caused by a moving very angry “sun spot” on the neutron star without changing its rotational axis (which I imagine would require alot of external energy). The jet might be like a super sun spot active region on the surface of the neutron star. Created by forces in its so called “strange star” kernel (named after the strange quark, as in a quark star, not because it is strange because it already was very strange anyways) that might exist in its relativistic quantum mechanic innerness near the spacetime horizon. It has been suggested that some neutron stars exist only thanks to their high rotational speed. As they slow down they collapse to black holes because the decaying centrifugal force (due to magnetic field interactions) one day doesn’t keep it above the limit of total mass collapse, and the magician suddenly disappears.

  • eddie willers

    It’s a wizard’s hat.

    (nec divinos petasum)

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