Supernova Condensate is a blog about our place in the Universe. Of astronomy, chemistry and life in the big bad bubble of academia.
Invader Xan is a molecular astrophysicist and part-time alien invader, who spends life looking at very small things on very large scales, and trying to better understand the chemistry of interstellar space.
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Tag Archives: galaxies
Make no mistake. The galactic centre is a fascinating place. Some of the densest interstellar environments in the galaxy, populated by some of the most massive stars. Supernova remnants, strewn about like streamers after a New Year’s celebration, decorate the … Continue reading
A galaxy is a huge collection of mass drifting in the otherwise bland and mostly featureless void of intergalactic space. Gravity is a force where like attracts like – mass likes to attract more mass – so, as you’d expect, … Continue reading
This is Henrietta Leavitt. And she is one of astronomy’s great unsung heroes. Working at the Harvard College Observatory in 1893 as a humble assistant, she had been tasked with counting images on photographic plates. But while she was looking … Continue reading
A galaxy is a chaotic place. Sure, they may look silent and motionless, suspended in space, but a galaxy is in constant motion. Hundreds of billions of stars, swirling around at hundreds of metres per second, gravitationally fixed in place … Continue reading
Every now and again, in casual conversation, someone asks something which catches me off guard briefly. Earlier today over a coffee, I was asked just such a question. After years of doing what I do and hearing all sorts of … Continue reading
A supermassive black hole is rather like a gravitational version of the Incredible Hulk. Massive, mean, able to take on anything thrown at it, and virtually unstoppable. While the smaller black holes may form when a massive but otherwise normal … Continue reading
Picture the scene. You’re drifting in intergalactic space. There are no stars punctuating the darkness, like there are here on Earth. Instead of stars, the points of light you can see are fuzzier looking. Far fewer points of light than … Continue reading
Messier 51 is a rather pretty spiral galaxy, sometimes known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. Unfortunately, as a spiral galaxy is basically a big swirly thing, there are a few others which people mis-identify as “whirlpool galaxy” too. The real whirlpool … Continue reading
Have a look at the very centre of this image, and tell me what you see. A small red dot, perhaps. Nothing wildly exciting. But that would be a horrible underestimation of this particular red dot. You see, this red … Continue reading