Amazinge images of Betelgeuse reveal how explosive red supergiant loses mass

It looks like a catastrophic explosion in the latest sci-fi action thriller but this awe-inspiring image is actually based on the latest state-of-the-art space imaging.

The artist’s impression, inspired by the sharpest ever views of the supergiant star Betelgeuse, reveals an enormous plume of gas almost as big as our own Solar System blasting outwards.

The discoveries, revealed by the latest techniques on the European Space Agency’s Very Large Telescope, could help unravel why the mammoth plasma ball spews out material at such an incredible speed.

It looks like a catastrophic explosion in the latest sci-fi action thriller but this awe-inspiring image is actually based on the latest state-of-the-art space imaging.

The artist’s impression, inspired by the sharpest ever views of the supergiant star Betelgeuse, reveals an enormous plume of gas almost as big as our own Solar System blasting outwards.

The discoveries, revealed by the latest techniques on the European Space Agency’s Very Large Telescope, could help unravel why the mammoth plasma ball spews out material at such an incredible speed.

Almost 1,000 times larger than our sun, Betelgeuse is the second largest star in the constellation of Orion and one of the biggest stars known to man.

The red supergiant is also one of the most luminous stars, emitting 100,000 times more light than the Sun.

For decades, astronomers have struggled to explain how the mysterious red supergiants expel such vast amounts of material. They can shed the mass of the Sun in just 10,000 years.

One theory was that the loss could be shed from areas above the star’s polar caps as they rotate.

But the two teams, who have studied the supergiant with the NACO and AMBER instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, have concluded that it is powerful gas motions within the star that force out the huge mass of gas.

One team captured the sharpest image to date of Betelgeuse using NACO, an adaptive optics instrument, and a ‘lucky imaging’ technique, which combines the sharpest exposures to surpass the accuracy of a long exposure.

The resulting image approaches the theoretical limit of resolution possible with the 8-metre telescope. It is so sharp it could even spot a tennis ball on the International Space Station from Earth.

‘Thanks to these outstanding images, we have detected a large plume of gas extending into space from the surface of Betelgeuse,’ lead researcher Pierre Kervella from the Paris Observatory told the website PhysOrg.

The plume bursts out to at least six times the diameter of the star - about the distance from Sun to Neptune.

‘This is a clear indication that the whole outer shell of the star is not shedding matter evenly in all directions,’ adds Kervella.

Meanwhile, results from AMBER revealed intense up-and-down motion of gas within Betelgeuse’s atmosphere.

Keiichi Ohnaka from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, said: 'Our AMBER observations are the sharpest observations of any kind ever made of Betelgeuse.

'Moreover, we detected how the gas is moving in different areas of Betelgeuse’s surface - the first time this has been done for a star other than the Sun.

Combined, the unrivalled observations have led the astronomers to propose that these large-scale gas motions roiling under Betelgeuse’s red surface are behind the ejection of the massive plume into space.

Awesome giant anvil-shaped cloud photographed by Space Station

A giant, anvil-shaped cloud bubbles up towards the Earth's stratosphere, looming over West Africa.

The amazing formation would be invisible to anyone on the ground and would even be obscure from a regular passenger jet since they can reach up to 75,000ft.

But astronauts captured the astonishing picture from hundreds of miles up as they orbited the globe on the International Space Station.

Anvil clouds are formed mostly from ice and normally form in the upper parts of thunderstorms. They get their shape from the fact that rising warm air in thunderstorms expands and spreads out as the air bumps up against the bottom of the stratosphere.

Streaks of snow are often seen falling out of the edges of anvils. This light snow usually evaporates as it falls through the relatively dry air surrounding the upper part of the thunderstorm.

Images released today showed Tom Marshburn and Christopher Cassidy doing final maintenance work on the exterior of the complex ahead of their departure today.

The four-hour and 54-minute procedure involved rewiring, camera setup, tidying cables and installing handrails and a portable foot restraint to aid future spacewalkers.

The five spacewalks together spanned a total of 30 hours.

The team from the visiting Endeavour shuttle fitted Japan's new outdoor experiments platform with television cameras, completing the final task for the £1.45 billion Kibo complex.

'Congratulations, you guys just completed the ... assembly,' Mission Control radioed once the second camera was secured.

'I can verify from up close it is, indeed, a beautiful laboratory.'

Space shuttle Endeavour's astronauts are inspecting their ship to make sure it's safe for Friday's landing.

The survey of the wings and nose, being conducted Wednesday morning, is standard before a shuttle returns to Earth.

Nasa wants to make sure Endeavour's heat shield was not pierced by micrometeorites or space junk during its two weeks in orbit. The astronauts used a laser-tipped boom to check for damage.

Endeavour and its crew of seven left the international space station Tuesday.

As the inspection was under way, an unmanned Russian vessel carrying several-thousand pounds of supplies docked at the station. Commander Gennady Padalka had to manually guide the craft in because of a problem with its automatic system.

Tiny Monkey Cowboy magic at the rodeo as primate rounds up sheep riding a border collie

Dogs can be darned tricky critters.

So when you're in the saddle hold tight, keep your hat on and above all, let him know who's boss.

This, at least, is how this tiny cowboy has stayed king of the rodeo for 18 years. That and his fabulous outfit of course.

From the moment he rides into the rodeo ring on the back of his border collie, Whiplash the capuchin monkey is the star of the show.

With the help of his trusty steed, he rounds up a flock of startled sheep. Then there's the crowd's favourite 'hi-ho silver' moment when the collie becomes a bucking bronco and Whiplash rides tall in the saddle.

Well, as tall as a 12in cowboy can.

His owner, Tommy Lucia, 67, dismisses claims from animal campaigners that Whiplash would be better off in the rainforests of Central or South America, his native habitat.

'I rescued him from a stinking cage in Florida when he was just a baby and I can assure you he'd let me know if life wasn't good,' he declared.

Mr Lucia and Whiplash are regulars at the rodeo in Big Spring, Texas.

But their fan base is rapidly growing. Like most 21-year-olds, Whiplash is on Facebook.

And after starring in a TV ad for a taco restaurant chain, he is also an Internet hit, being seen by millions on YouTube.

Mr Lucia says Whiplash keeps his collies on a short rein.

'The sheepdogs know their place and he curses them like he does me if they are not doing what he says,' he said.

'He's got such a strong will you never quite know what he's going to do - there's always a surprise. But he's a natural in the saddle.

'When he's done for the day he goes to our motor home for dinner. His favourite foods are pears, apples, bananas and especially strawberries.'

Amazing Exploding Water Balloons Crystallized in Time

Snapshots of water-filled balloons bursting figure as amazingly frozen moments in time. Granted, they also bring back memories of when you were a young scamp, mischievously dropping water bombs on hapless cyclists from overpasses,
or soaking whole streets in drive-by drench-athons – but those days of innocence are gone now. So, it just leaves us to sit back and wonder at the beautiful physics of the things – as well as the devilish uses to which they can be put.

In a general sense it’s all to do with pressure – like peer pressure, but without the wicked little peers saying stuff like, “go on, soak the suckers, or we’ll soak you”. Yes, pressure. The pressure of the point of the pin, needle or whatever else it is that exerts force on the balloon, and the high pressure of the water inside the balloon, which is suddenly allowed to disperse. Since the water cannot all escape from the tiny hole pricked in the elastic material, it bursts to even out the pressure.

But enough talk; let’s see some shots of a water bomb bursting in sequence. A dart is let fly en route to puncture a balloon…

When the dart pierces the skin of its target, the balloon creases as it starts to split open, while ripples in the water’s surface tension begin to appear.

The water’s effervescence becomes more turbulent as it bulges, making its escape, even as the latex of the balloon surrenders to gravity.

Then there’s the magic moment from a photographic point of view, the instant when the water, shorn of its rubbery mould, still holds its roughly pear-shaped form…

…Before collapsing in a shower of water droplets.

s with so many things that are meant to be fun, some folks seem to take it all so very seriously. Throwing techniques include: not tying the water balloon closed but instead just twisting the end a few times so water begins to squirt out on the flight path; and overfilling the balloon so there’s enough weight and water to cause a good soaking even if it explodes on the ground. There are even accessories called ‘water balloon launchers’ as well as different types of nozzles and valves, all brought to you by a variety of money spinning manufacturers.
Maybe we’re traditionalists here at EG, but give us any balloons and we’re away, off on a journey of mischief and mayhem. Yes, we know you’re not supposed to use standard air balloons because they’re meant to be too thick, but when you’re holding a water bomb as big as a watermelon, no matter how hard to handle it may be, you know you’re going to cause a splash if it’s dropped from a great height. Oh yes.

Dogs in swimsuits at fashion show

Dogs wearing designer clothes strutted their stuff on the catwalk during a fashion show with a canine twist.Accompanied by two-legged models, the pooches paraded a series of fetching outfits from swimsuits to evening wear.
The Taipie-based company which launched the collection hope to catch the eye of dog lovers who treat their pets as family members.
"I want my dog to dress up like me, just like mother and daughter in the same style dress," said one owner.The dog-wear company plans to open markets in China, Japan and Australia.

Amazing Daredevil motorcyclist jumps London's Tower Bridge while doing a no-handed backflip

Motocross star Robbie Maddison found an unusual way to cross the Thames this morning - when he used his motorbike to leap an open Tower Bridge.

The 27-year-old Australian performed a no-handed backflip as he jumped the gap between the north and south side of the historic London landmark at 2.55am.

‘The whole experience was awesome,’ he said.

‘We had a matter of minutes on the bridge and had to time everything to the second - there were so many factors to get right, but we pulled it off.

‘It was an incredible feeling to fly between the two towers and over the Thames.’

Maddison said he had been planning a stunt in London since his last feat - leaping off a ramp on to a life-size replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve last year.

‘People say I’m crazy, but I just want to push the boundaries of my sport and my body to the limit and I love taking on these huge challenges,’ he said.

Maddison, who also holds the record for the world’s longest ever motorbike jump (350.7ft) will perform at Battersea Power Station on August 22 as part of the Red Bull X-Fighters World Tour 2009.

His stunts are reminiscent of Evel Knievel, the American motorcycle daredevil whose jumps including his 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon in Idaho.

His achievements and failures, including his record 37 broken bones, earned him several entries in the Guinness Book of World Records before his death in 2007.


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