Posts filed under “Weekend”

Superstar Eta Carinae’s Periastron

Eta Carinae is a binary system containing the most luminous and massive star within 10,000 light-years. A long-term study led by astronomers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, combined data from NASA satellites, ground-based observing campaigns and theoretical modeling to produce the most comprehensive picture of Eta Carinae to date. New findings include Hubble Space Telescope images that show decade-old shells of ionized gas racing away from the largest star at a million miles an hour, and new 3-D models that reveal never-before-seen features of the stars’ interactions.

Located about 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation of Carina, Eta Carinae comprises two massive stars whose eccentric orbits bring them unusually close every 5.5 years. Both produce powerful gaseous outflows called stellar winds, which enshroud the stars and stymy efforts to directly measure their properties. Astronomers have established that the brighter, cooler primary star has about 90 times the mass of the sun and outshines it by 5 million times. While the properties of its smaller, hotter companion are more contested, Goddard’s Ted Gull and his colleagues think the star has about 30 solar masses and emits a million times the sun’s light.

At closest approach, or periastron, the stars are 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) apart, or about the average distance between Mars and the sun. Astronomers observe dramatic changes in the system during the months before and after periastron. These include X-ray flares, followed by a sudden decline and eventual recovery of X-ray emission; the disappearance and re-emergence of structures near the stars detected at specific wavelengths of visible light; and even a play of light and shadow as the smaller star swings around the primary.

During the past 11 years, spanning three periastron passages, the Goddard group has developed a model based on routine observations of the stars using ground-based telescopes and multiple NASA satellites. According to this model, the interaction of the two stellar winds accounts for many of the periodic changes observed in the system. The winds from each star have markedly different properties: thick and slow for the primary, lean and fast for the hotter companion. The primary’s wind blows at nearly 1 million mph and is especially dense, carrying away the equivalent mass of our sun every thousand years. By contrast, the companion’s wind carries off about 100 times less material than the primary’s, but it races outward as much as six times faster.

The images and video on this page include periastron observations from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, the X-Ray Telescope aboard NASA’s Swift, the Hubble Space Telescope’s STIS instrument, and computer simulations. See the captions for details.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at:

Category: Science, Video, Weekend

How Big Is The Universe?

The Universe is big, but how big is it? That all depends on whether the Universe is finite or infinite. Even the word “big” is tough to get clear. Are we talking about the size of the Universe we can see, or the Universe’s actual size right now?


Hat tip io9


Category: Science, Video, Weekend

Amy Winehouse, Back To Black (Acoustic)

Amy Winehouse died 4 years ago last week (July 23, 2011). She was a singular talent:


Category: Friday Night Jazz, Video, Weekend

Auto Avio Costruzioni 815, the ‘secret’ first Ferrari

Source: Classic Driver

Category: Weekend

007: Spectre Trailer

Source: 007


Watch the new trailer for SPECTRE. A cryptic message from the past sends James Bond on a rogue mission to Mexico City and eventually Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci), the beautiful and forbidden widow of an infamous criminal. Bond infiltrates a secret meeting and uncovers the existence of the sinister organisation known as SPECTRE.

Meanwhile back in London, Max Denbigh (Andrew Scott), the new head of the Centre for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and challenges the relevance of MI6, led by M (Ralph Fiennes). Bond covertly enlists Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) to help him seek out Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux), the daughter of his old nemesis Mr White (Jesper Christensen), who may hold the clue to untangling the web of SPECTRE. As the daughter of an assassin, she understands Bond in a way most others cannot.

As Bond ventures towards the heart of SPECTRE, he learns of a chilling connection between himself and the enemy he seeks, played by Christoph Waltz.

Category: Film, Video, Weekend

Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: Bill Maher

Source: Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

Category: Weekend

1933 Rolls-Royce

Commissioned by an Indian Prince for Less Than $200,000, a lovely 1933 Rolls-Royce: Source: Bloomberg

Category: Weekend

Subway Symphony

  Hat tip Daily Dot

Category: Music, Travel, Weekend

The Art of the Opening Shot

    Clips from movies in order of appearance: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Apocalypse Now (1979), Zoetrope Studios The Untouchables (1987), Paramount Pictures TRON: Legacy (2010), Walt Disney Pictures Léon: The Professional (1994), Gaumont Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Horizon Pictures Touch of Evil (1958), Universal International Pictures Star Wars: Episode IV –…Read More

Category: Film, Weekend

2001 BMW Z8

I have always lusted after the Z8 — but the price keeps creeping higher. Here’s a great color combo out on a 2001 out of all places of Croatia:   Source: Classic Driver

Category: Weekend