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Andromeda Galaxy’s vastness is captured perfectly in a zoom-out video that was shared by World and Science, a Twitter handle that frequently shares interesting stories from the world of science. The video of Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31 or M31, has left users on the micro-blogging site awestruck. The sharp zoom0out clip shows over 100 million celestial bodies. The clip begins with the camera moving to the right before it zooms out and reveals what’s undoubtedly a heavenly view of the M31.  

“Mind-blowing! A zoom out of the sharpest view of the Andromeda Galaxy ever, showing more than 100 million stars!” wrote World and Science on June 9 and shared the clip with its 2.1 million followers. Midway through the zoom out video, the camera slows down a bit and reveals the galaxy full of innumerable stars, some easily identifiable due to their size. At the time of writing, the video had already generated quite an excitement, with over 340,000 views, 10,500 likes, and over 3,200 retweets.

Reacting to it, Teen Wolf star Ian Bohen tweeted, “Great perspective for all those who think we’re alone out here,” he wrote.

Another user (@idealust) wondered how there could be no life out there. “Staggeringly huge amount of planets around those stars. The trick is, is it alive during our ability to find it? Too much to search. Not enough time. Such a paradox,” the tweet read.

“It’s also incredible to think how far apart these stars really are when they all look so close together in the photo,” user Chilly MIV commented

Here are some more reactions to the fascinating view of the Andromeda Galaxy.

According to NASA, the Andromeda galaxy is a majestic spiral of perhaps as many as 1 trillion stars, twice the number in our Milky Way. It’s so close to us that the galaxy appears as “a cigar-shaped smudge of light high in the autumn sky,” said the space agency. It added that the M31 is at a distance of 2.5 million light-years from us. 

In another post last month, NASA recalled that less than 100 years ago, many astronomers thought the Milky Way was the only galaxy in the universe. It said that even though astronomers debated the existence of other galaxies, it took Edwin Hubble’s observations of the Great Andromeda Nebula to confirm that it was far too distant to be part of the Milky Way. The Great Andromeda Nebula then became the Andromeda Galaxy, and astronomers recognised that our universe was much bigger than humanity could envision.


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New Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration to Create Videos of Black Holes

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New Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration to Create Videos of Black Holes

In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration produced the first-ever image of a black hole, stunning the world.

Now, scientists are taking it further. The next generation Event Horizon Telescope (ngEHT) collaboration aims to create high-quality videos of black holes.

But this next-generation collaboration is groundbreaking in other ways, too. It’s the first large physics collaboration bringing together perspectives from natural sciences, social sciences and the humanities.

For a virtual telescope spanning the planet, the larger a telescope, the better it is at seeing things that look tiny from far away. To produce black hole images, we need a telescope almost the size of Earth itself. That’s why the EHT uses many telescopes and telescope arrays scattered across the globe to form a single, virtual Earth-sized telescope. This is known as very long baseline interferometry.

Harvard astrophysicist Shep Doeleman, the founding director of the EHT, has likened this kind of astronomy to using a broken mirror. Imagine shattering a mirror and scattering the pieces across the world. Then you record the light caught by each of these pieces while keeping track of the timing, and collect those data in a supercomputer to virtually reconstruct an Earth-sized detector.

The 2019 first-ever image of a black hole was made by borrowing existing telescopes at six sites. Now, new telescopes at new sites are being built to better fill in the gaps of the broken mirror. The collaboration is currently in the process of selecting optimal places across the world, to increase the number of sites to approximately 20.

This ambitious endeavour needs over 300 experts organised into three technical working groups and eight science working groups. The history, philosophy and culture working group has just published a landmark report outlining how humanities and social science scholars can work with astrophysicists and engineers from the first stages of a project.

The report has four focus areas: collaborative knowledge formation, philosophical foundations, algorithms and visualisation, and responsible telescope siting.

How can we all collaborate? If you’ve ever tried to write a paper (or anything!) with someone else, you know how difficult it can be. Now imagine trying to write a scientific paper with over 300 people.

Should one expect each author to believe and be willing to defend every part of the paper and its conclusions? How should we all determine what will be included? If everyone has to agree with what is included, will this result in only publishing conservative, watered-down results? And how do you allow for individual creativity and boundary-pushing science (especially when you are attempting to be the first to capture something)? To resolve such questions, it’s important to balance collaborative approaches and structure everyone’s involvement in a way that promotes consensus, but also allows people to express dissent. Diversity of beliefs and practices among collaboration members can be beneficial to science.

How do we visualise the data? The aesthetic choices regarding the final black hole images and videos take place in a broader context of visual culture.

In reality, blue flames are hotter than flames appearing orange or yellow. But in the above false-colour image of Sagittarius A* – the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way – the colour palette of orange-red hues was chosen as it was believed orange would communicate to wider audiences just how hot the glowing material around the black hole is.

This approach connects to historical practices of technology-assisted scientific images, such as those by Galileo, Robert Hooke, and Johannes Hevelius. These scientists combined their early telescopic and microscopic images with artistic techniques so they would be legible to non-specialist audiences (particularly those who did not have access to the relevant instruments).

How philosophy can help Videos of black holes would be of significant interest to theoretical physicists. However, there is a bridge between formal mathematical theory and the messy world of experiment where idealised assumptions often do not hold up.

Philosophers can help to bridge this gap with considerations of epistemic risk – such as the risk of missing the truth, or making an error. Philosophy also helps to investigate the underlying assumptions physicists might have about a phenomenon.

For example, one approach to describing black holes is called the “no-hair theorem”. It’s the idea that an isolated black hole can be simplified down to just a few properties, and there’s nothing complex (hairy) about it. But the no-hair theorem applies to stable black holes. It relies on an assumption that black holes eventually settle down to a stationary state.

Responsible telescope siting The choice of locations for telescopes, or telescope siting, has historically been determined by technical and economic considerations – including weather, atmospheric clarity, accessibility and costs. There has been a historic lack of consideration for local communities, including First Nations peoples.

As the struggle at Mauna Kea in Hawai’i highlights, scientific collaborations are obligated to address ethical, social and environmental considerations when siting.

The ngEHT aims to advance responsible siting practices. It draws together experts in philosophy, history, sociology, community advocacy, science, and engineering to contribute to the decision-making process in ways that include cultural, social and environmental factors when choosing a new telescope location.

Overall, this collaboration is an exciting example of how ambitious plans demand innovative approaches – and how sciences are evolving in the 21st century.


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US Air Force Hands Over NISAR Satellite to ISRO in Bengaluru

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US Air Force Hands Over NISAR Satellite to ISRO in Bengaluru

The US Air Force on Wednesday handed over NISAR, an earth observation satellite jointly developed by NASA and ISRO, to the Indian space agency. A US Air Force C-17 aircraft carrying the NASA-ISRO synthetic aperture radar (NISAR) has landed in Bengaluru, the US Consulate in Chennai said.

The satellite is an outcome of a collaboration between the American space agency NASA and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“Touchdown in Bengaluru! @ISRO receives NISAR (@NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar) on a @USAirforce C-17 from @NASAJPL in California, setting the stage for final integration of the Earth observation satellite, a true symbol of #USIndia civil space collaboration. #USIndiaTogether,” the US Consulate General, Chennai tweeted.

NISAR will be used by ISRO for a variety of purposes including agricultural mapping, and landslide-prone areas.

The satellite is expected to be launched in 2024 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh, into a near-polar orbit.

Meanwhile, ISRO also announced that it successfully carried out an “extremely challenging” controlled re-entry experiment of the decommissioned orbiting Megha-Tropiques-1 (MT-1) satellite. “The satellite re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and would have disintegrated over the Pacific Ocean”, the Bengaluru-headquartered national space agency said on Twitter on Tuesday.

The final impact region estimated is in the deep Pacific Ocean within the expected latitude and longitude boundaries, an ISRO statement said.

The low Earth satellite was launched on October 12, 2011, as a joint satellite venture of ISRO and the French space agency, CNES for tropical weather and climate studies.


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NASA Confirms Plans to Launch Its Artemis 2 Crewed Moon Mission: See Date

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NASA Confirms Plans to Launch Its Artemis 2 Crewed Moon Mission: See Date

NASA is on track to launch a crewed mission around the Moon in November of next year after a successful unmanned test flight, the US space agency said Tuesday.

NASA officials provided an update on the Artemis programme, which aims to return humans to the Moon for the first time since the historic Apollo missions ended in 1972.

The first Artemis mission wrapped up in December with an uncrewed Orion capsule returning safely to Earth after a more than 25-day journey around the Moon.

Artemis 2, scheduled to take place in late November 2024, will take a four-person crew around the Moon but without landing on it.

“We’re looking forward to that crew flying on Artemis 2,” NASA associate administrator Jim Free told reporters. “Right now there’s nothing holding us up based on what we learned on Artemis 1.”

NASA is to reveal the members of the Artemis 2 crew later this year. All that is known so far is that one of them will be a Canadian.

Artemis 3, scheduled for about 12 months after Artemis 2, will see astronauts land for the first time on the south pole of the Moon.

“Our plan has always been 12 months, but there are significant developments that have to occur,” Free cautioned.

“We’re still sticking with that 12 months, but we’re always looking at the development of all the hardware that has to come together for that.”

Among the items still in development are a lunar lander being built by SpaceX and spacesuits, Free said.

NASA hopes to establish a lasting human presence on the Moon and later launch a years-long trip to Mars.

As part of the Artemis missions, NASA is planning to send a woman and a person of colour to the Moon for the first time.

Only 12 people — all of them white men — have set foot on the Moon.

During the trip around Earth’s orbiting satellite and back, Orion logged well over a million miles and went farther from Earth than any previous habitable spacecraft.


From smartphones with rollable displays or liquid cooling, to compact AR glasses and handsets that can be repaired easily by their owners, we discuss the best devices we’ve seen at MWC 2023 on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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