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May's Stellar Space Pictures

May's Stellar Space Pictures

Peer into the past and predict the future with the stars this month.

4_crop__TNG50_protocluster_z2_dm_gasvel_1900px.jpg

A computer simulation of a protocluster of galaxies, predicting what future telescopes might detect.

Image credits:

TNG Collaboration

Friday, May 31, 2019 - 15:45

Abigail Malate, Staff Illustrator

(Inside Science) -- Humanity's fascination with celestial objects in the night sky goes back thousands of years. The history of those objects goes back even further. This month, astronomers look back at that long history, using modern technology and ancient texts to observe the celestial bodies. The pictures from these studies build on previous generations' discoveries to look deeper into the cosmos, some of which may even predict future discoveries.

Slideshow

In 48 B.C., Chinese astronomers observed a stellar nova and recorded the following: “April of the first year of the first king, a ‘guest’ star as large as a melon with a green whitish hue located two stars to the east of the southern zodiac.” More than 2,000 years later, astronomers have finally located the remnants of that explosion -- at the center of the globular cluster Messier 22. The Göttingen-based team of astronomers was able to confirm one of the oldest observations of a stellar event outside of our solar system. Above is the modern picture (left), together with the Chinese ancient text, where the observation is highlighted (right). (ESA/Hubble and NASA, F. Gottgens (IAG)/The Chinese Text Project)

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Abigail Malate is a graphic designer at the American Institute of Physics, which produces the editorially independent news service Inside Science.