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Merging Spiral Galaxies – simulating visual appearance – YouTube March 1, 2012

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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Merging Spiral Galaxies – simulating visual appearance – YouTube.

This animation is really lovely.

It does the usual animation of a simulation of two galaxies merging, with a fly-around of the end state. But then it does more.

There is a short segment to show the differences between what we would actually see, and what it would look like if we could strip away the dust, so you can tel where the dust is concentrated.

The third segment eliminates the stars and shows the gas density and temperature. The temperature is a very nice addition, since it shows what happens to the temperatures during the collision, and there are some interesting dynamics.

Finally, the last segment combines the stars and dust with the gas temperature, fading between the two. It’s particularly fascinating to pause it as it fades between the two, since you can see that the stars and gas don’t always align nicely, and really major features in one may not even exist in the other.

In short, it’s a great thing to share with your intro astro students and tell them to explore it on their own for a few minutes!

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Awesome Astronomical Image Search January 12, 2012

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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AstroPix Beta.

It’s a beta, that is true. The website is still a little rough around the edges, runs a bit slow (or maybe that’s my connection…) and there can’t be more than a few hundred images, but this is most certainly a site worth perusing.

The search functions are great. The images not only have titles and information about where they came from, they’re tagged with all sorts of other info.  Want images of the same nebula in IR, H-alpha, visible, and x-ray? You can search for that. Artists’ concepts of an accretion disk around a binary star system?  You got it.

The only real problem I’ve found is that the image collection simply isn’t very large yet. For example, there are only 5 images with “spectral.centralWavelength” of 656 nm, and not one of them is the Sun. That should improve though, and even with a relatively small set of images, this is a great resource.

How deep the Universe | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine January 17, 2011

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy, MichiganAstro.
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Sometimes, when I was teaching and we were talking about the size or age of the universe, a student would make some comment like “is that all?”

I usually responded to that with a blank look. “What do you mean, is that all?”

I forget sometimes that the universe is so big that most people don’t even realize that they can’t possibly imagine how big it really is.

Sometimes, it takes a Bad Astronomer to remind me.

How deep the Universe | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine.

winter break December 26, 2010

Posted by aquillam in Uncategorized.
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It is winter break at UM.  What that really means is that I actually have a bit of free time to do some writing.

Of course, I can’t think of what to write about now!

So I’m playing with my blog settings instead.  Let me know what you think of the new appearance. The background is from Hubblesite: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/star%20cluster/2009/25/video/e/still/2/.