breathe. you are alive.
A Cosmic Easter Egg
In this composite image, visible-light observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are combined with infrared data from the ground-based Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona to assemble a dramatic view of the well-known Ring Nebula.
Called a planetary nebula, the Ring Nebula is the glowing remains of a Sun-like star. It is about 2,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra and measures roughly one light-year across.
Most Sun-like stars become planetary nebulae at the end of their lives. Once a star consumes all of its hydrogen, the nuclear fuel that makes it shine, it expands to a red giant. The bloated star then expels its outer layers, exposing its hot core. Ultraviolet radiation from the core illuminates the discarded material, making it glow. The smoldering core, called a white dwarf, is the tiny white dot in the center of the Ring Nebula.
(Credit: NASA, ESA, and C. R. O’Dell (Vanderbilt University)
This trip, split between furiously taking notes on science and desperately reuniting with old friends, could be condensed into a single line I read in a book once: “The days are long but the years are short.” Until next time, East Coast.
(at Baltimore / Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI))