Friday, December 18, 2015

NASA Finds Star Wars Lightsaber and Death Star in Space


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - Continuing NASA's long history of self-promotion by both influencing and capitalizing upon science fiction pop culture, the space agency has released images which resemble a double-bladed lightsaber and Death Star from the Star Wars movie series.

"Just in time for the release of the movie “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens,” NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has photographed what looks like a cosmic, double-bladed lightsaber," NASA wrote in a blog post. "In the center of the image, partially obscured by a dark, Jedi-like cloak of dust, a newborn star shoots twin jets out into space as a sort of birth announcement to the universe."

The image is actually an artist's concept of a recent birth of a star encircled by a pancake-shaped disk of dust and gas left over from the collapse of the nebula that formed the star. Gas falls onto the newly forming star and is heated to the point that some of it escapes along the star's spin axis. Intertwined by magnetic fields, the bipolar jets blast into space at over 100,000 miles per hour.

However, this "Star Wars lightsaber" does not lie in a galaxy far, far away, but rather inside our home galaxy, the Milky Way. It’s inside a turbulent birthing ground for new stars known as the Orion B molecular cloud complex, located 1,350 light-years away

“Science fiction has been an inspiration to generations of scientists and engineers, and the film series Star Wars is no exception,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission directorate.  “There is no stronger case for the motivational power of real science than the discoveries that come from the Hubble Space Telescope as it unravels the mysteries of the universe."

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)



In this image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on its closest-ever flyby of Saturn's moon Mimas, the large Herschel Crater dominates Mimas, making the moon look like the Death Star in the movie "Star Wars."

Image Credit: NASA/JPL/SSI