NGC 6752 contains a high number of “blue straggler” stars, some of which are visible in this image. These stars display characteristics of stars younger than their neighbors, despite models suggesting that most of the stars within globular clusters should have formed at approximately the same time. Their origin is therefore something of a mystery. Studies of NGC 6752 may shed light on this situation. It appears that a very high number — up to 38 percent — of the stars within its core region are binary systems. Collisions between stars in this turbulent area could produce the blue stragglers that are so prevalent. (via NASA)
This image shows the dramatic surroundings of the star cluster NGC 2100 in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The picture is dominated by the Tarantula Nebula, the most active star formation region in the Local Group of galaxies that includes the Milky Way. (via ESO)
Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: Episode 10 - ‘The Edge of Forever’.
"If the general picture however of a big bang followed by an expanding universe is correct, what happened before that? Was the universe devoid of all matter and then the matter suddenly, somehow created? How did that happen? In many cultures it is customary to answer is that a God or Gods created the universe out of nothing. But if we wish to pursue the question courageously, we must, of course ask next question: where did God come from? If we decide this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question? Or, if we say that God always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe always existed? There’s no need for a creation, it was always here." (0:35:21)
“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge. Its goal is to find out how the world works, to seek what regularities there may be, to penetrate the connections of things—from subnuclear particles, which may be the constituents of all matter, to living organisms, the human social community, and thence to the cosmos as a whole. Our intuition is by no means an infallible guide. Our perceptions may be distorted by training and prejudice or merely because of the limitations of our sense organs, which, of course, perceive directly but a small fraction of the phenomena of the world. Even so straightforward a question as whether in the absence of friction a pound of lead falls faster than a gram of fluff was answered incorrectly by Aristotle and almost everyone else before the time of Galileo. Science is based on experiment, on a willingness to challenge old dogma, on an openness to see the universe as it really is. Accordingly, science sometimes requires courage—at the very least the courage to question the conventional wisdom.”
Most of the Universe is dark. The protons, neutrons and electrons that make up the stars, planets and us represent only a small fraction of the mass and energy of the Universe. The rest is dark and mysterious. (via Chandra)
“Does the Universe ha a Purpose?
Anyone who expresses a more definitive response to the question is claiming access to knowledge not based on empirical foundations. This remarkably persistent way of thinking, common to most religions and some branches of philosophy, has failed badly in past efforts to understand, and thereby predict the operations of the universe and our place within it.To assert that the universe has a purpose implies the universe has intent. And intent implies a desired outcome. But who would do the desiring? And what would a desired outcome be? That carbon-based life is inevitable? Or that sentient primates are life’s neurological pinnacle? Are answers to these questions even possible without expressing a profound bias of human sentiment? Of course humans were not around to ask these questions for 99.9999% of cosmic history. So if the purpose of the universe was to create humans then the cosmos was embarrassingly inefficient about it. And if a further purpose of the universe was to create a fertile cradle for life, then our cosmic environment has got an odd way of showing it. Life on Earth, during more than 3.5 billion years of existence, has been persistently assaulted by natural sources of mayhem, death, and destruction. Ecological devastation exacted by volcanoes, climate change, earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, pestilence, and especially killer asteroids have left extinct 99.9% of all species that have ever lived here.
How about human life itself? If you are religious, you might declare that the purpose of life is to serve God. But if you’re one of the 100 billion bacteria living and working in a single centimeter of our lower intestine (rivaling, by the way, the total number of humans who have ever been born) you would give an entirely different answer. You might instead
say that the purpose of human life is to provide you with a dark, but idyllic, anaerobic habitat of fecal matter.So in the absence of human hubris, and after we filter out the delusional assessments it promotes within us, the universe looks more and more random. Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as other events that would just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible, to assert. So while I cannot claim to know for sure whether or not the universe has a purpose, the case against it is strong, and visible to anyone who sees the
universe as it is rather than as they wish it to be.”