Youthful NGC 362 Globular Cluster

A Young Globular Cluster

Youthful NGC 362 Globular Cluster

Earlier this week NASA released this dazzling image of NGC 362. It is one of about 150 known globular clusters on the outskirts of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Globular clusters are giant spheres that contain hundreds of thousands of stars and reside in the outskirts of galaxies. The ESA says NGC 362 is unusual:

By studying the different elements present within individual stars in NGC 362, astronomers discovered that the cluster boasts a surprisingly high metal content, indicating that it is younger than expected. Although most globular clusters are much older than the majority of stars in their host galaxy, NGC 362 bucks the trend, with an age lying between 10 and 11 billion years old. For reference, the age of the Milky Way is estimated to be above 13 billion years.

This image, in which you can view many of NGC 362’s individual stars, was taken by Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) If you want a new desktop image, here’s the 42 MB full-size original (it will automatically download).

100000 Stars

100,000 Stars: Interactive 3D Visualization Of Our Galaxy

100000 Stars

Are you ready to space out? 100,000 Stars is an interactive 3D map of our Milky Way Galaxy created by the folks over at Google. It accurately plots 100,000 local stars pulling data from a range of sources, including NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Bright Star Catalog.

100,000 Stars is an interactive visualization of the stellar neighborhood created for the Google Chrome web browser. It shows the real location of over 100,000 nearby stars. Zooming in reveals 87 individually identified stars and our solar system. The galaxy view is an artist’s rendition.

Instructions: Pan using your mouse and zoom in/out using your touchpad or mouse wheel. Click a star’s name to learn more about it.

Warning: Scientific accuracy is not guaranteed. Please do not use this visualization for interstellar navigation.

Be sure to take the tour. This is a WebGL Google Chrome Experiment, so it’ll run best on Chrome or Safari and with a decent graphics card. Damn nature, you pretty.

A list of Events Taking Place In The Very Distant Future

Below is a list of events, given present scientific understanding and models, that are expected to occur in the far future. Entities affected include humans, the Earth, the galaxy and the known Universe. Predictions include the fields of biology, geology, astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics. It should be noted that several alternate future events are listed to account for questions still unresolved.

  • 10,000 years from now – The end of humanity, according to Brandon Carter’s Doomsday Argument, which assumes that half of the humans who will ever have lived have already been born.
  • 10,000 years from now – The Earth’s axial tilt reaches a minimum of 22.5 degrees. The Gregorian calendar will be roughly 10 days out of sync with the Sun’s position in the sky.
  • 25,000 years from now – The Arecibo Message, a collection of radio data transmitted on 16 November 1974, reaches its destination, the globular cluster Messier 13. This is the only interstellar radio message sent to such a distant region of the galaxy.
  • 50,000 years from now – Niagara Falls erodes away the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie and ceases to exist.
  • 100,000 years from now – Proper motion (the movement of stars through the galaxy) will make today’s constellations unrecognizable.
  • 500,000 years from now – By this time Earth will have likely been impacted by a meteorite of roughly 1 km in diameter.
  • 1 Million years from now – Highest estimated time until the red supergiant star Betelgeuse explodes in a supernova. The explosion is expected to be easily visible in daylight.
  • 10 Million years from now – The widening East African Rift valley is flooded by the Red Sea, causing a new ocean basin to divide the continent of Africa.
  • 230 Million years from now – The solar system reaches Lyapunov time and the orbits of the planets become impossible to predict.
  • 240 Million years from now – From its present position, the Solar System will have completed one full orbit of the Galactic center.
  • 250 Million years from now – All the continents on Earth fuse into a possible new supercontinent.
  • 600 Million years from now – Tidal acceleration moves the Moon far enough from Earth that total solar eclipses are no longer possible. Carbon dioxide levels in its atmosphere decrease to the point at which C3 photosynthesis is no longer possible. 99% of all plants will die.
  • 1 Billion years from now – The Sun’s luminosity increases by 10%, causing Earth’s surface temperatures to reach an average of 47°C and the oceans to boil away.
  • 5.4 Billion years from now – The Sun becomes a red giant. Mercury, Venus and possibly Earth are destroyed. During these times, it is possible that Saturn’s moon Titan could achieve surface temperatures necessary to support life.
  • 7 Billion years from now – The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy collide.
  • 14.4 Billion years from now – Sun becomes a black dwarf as its luminosity falls below three trillionths its current level making it invisible to human eyes.
  • 20 Billion years from now – The end of the Universe in the Big Rip scenario.
  • 50 Billion years from now – Assuming both survive the Sun’s expansion, by this time the Earth and the Moon become tidelocked, with each showing only one face to the other.
  • 100 Billion years from now – The Universe’s expansion causes all evidence of the Big Bang to disappear beyond the practical observational limit, rendering cosmology impossible.
  • 1 Trillion years from now – Low estimate for the time star formation ends in galaxies as they are depleted of the gas clouds needed to create stars. Once star formation ends and the least massive red dwarfs exhaust their fuel, the only stellar-mass objects remaining are stellar remnants (white dwarfs, brown dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes).
  • 2 Trillion years from now – All galaxies outside the Local Supercluster are no longer detectable in any way, assuming that dark energy continues to make the Universe expand at an accelerating rate.
  • 1015 (1 Quadrillion) years from now – Estimated time until stellar close encounters detach all planets in the Solar System from their orbits. The Solar System will no longer exist.
  • 3×1043 years from now – If protons decay, this is the estimated time for all nucleons in the observable Universe to decay. The Black Hole Era, in which black holes are the only remaining celestial objects begins.
  • 1065 years from now – If protons don’t decay this is the estimated time for rigid objects like rocks to rearrange their atoms and molecules via quantum tunneling. On this timescale all matter is liquid.

  • 101050 years from now – Estimated time for a Boltzmann brain to appear in the vacuum via a spontaneous entropy decrease.

  • 101056 years from now – Estimated time for random quantum fluctuations to generate a new Big Bang.

  • 101076 years from now – All matter collapses into black holes, again.

Current theories suggest that the Universe is open, and thus will not collapse in on itself after a finite time. However, the infinite future potentially allows for the occurrence of a number of massively improbable events, such as the formation of a Boltzmann brain. A more complete list from which the ones included here were taken can be found on Wikipedia.