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Hubble Snaps Another Gorgeous Pic of "Pillars of Creation"


NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); click to enlarge.

In 1995, the Hubble Telescope snapped a photo of a portion of the Eagle Nebula (M16) called "Pillars of Creation," three columns of cold gas illuminated by ultraviolet light emanating from young stars. According to Phil Plait at Slate's Bad Astronomy blog, "It was the first highly detailed look astronomers ever got into a star-forming region, and we immediately learned quite a bit about them."

The image quickly became iconic, appearing in movies and TV shows, on t-shirts and on a postal stamp. Now, in honor of the 25th anniversary of Hubble's launch (which is officially in April), the craft has photographed the Pillars again, this time in stunning, glorious high-definition (click on the image above to get a closer look; you can compare the two images here).

Astronomers assembled several Hubble shots, taken with its Wide Field Camera 3 in September 2014, to create the new photo of the Pillars, which are about 5 light years tall. "I'm impressed by how transitory these structures are," said Arizona State University in Tempe's Paul Scowen, who was co-leader of the original observations of the Eagle Nebula. "They are actively being ablated away before our very eyes. The ghostly bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars is material getting heated up and evaporating away into space. We have caught these pillars at a very unique and short-lived moment in their evolution."

In addition to the above photo, which shows the Pillars in visible light, astronomers also snapped a pic of the formation in near-infrared—which penetrates most of the gas and dust to show the baby stars being formed in the nebula—creating the gorgeous and ghostly photo below.


NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); click to enlarge.

For more analysis of the images and what you can see in them, head over to Plait's post on Slate.

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Can You Find the Money in Santa’s Sack in This Hidden Image Puzzle?
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A hidden-object image features rows of Santas carrying sacks.
Vouchercloud

Vouchercloud, a website and app for online deals, brings us this holiday-themed test of your vision just in time for Christmas. Hidden among all the identical Santa Clauses carrying sacks of presents, one financially-savvy Santa is carrying a big sack of money. Can you figure out where he is? (Warning: Spoilers below.)

Spot him yet? If you’re stumped, check out the solution below. If this one was a breeze for you, try out a few more hidden-object puzzles here, here, and here. Or if you’re looking for something with a little more real-life relevancy, try to figure out where the snake is in this photo. Happy hunting!

A hidden-object image features rows of Santas carrying sacks with the solution circled in red.
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© 2017 USPS
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Pop Culture
Speedy Delivery: Mister Rogers Will Get His Own Stamp in 2018
© 2017 USPS
© 2017 USPS

USPS 2018 Mister Rogers stamp
© 2017 USPS

After weeks of mailing out this year’s holiday cards, postage might be the last thing you want to think about. But the U.S. Postal Service has just given us a sneak peek at the many iconic people, places, and things that will be commemorated with their own stamps in 2018, and one in particular has us excited to send out a few birthday cards: Mister Rogers.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred Rogers’s groundbreaking PBS series that the USPS says “inspired and educated young viewers with warmth, sensitivity, and honesty,” the mail service shared a mockup of what the final stamp may look like. On it, Rogers—decked out in one of his trademark colorful cardigans (all of which were hand-knitted by his mom, by the way)—smiles for the camera alongside King Friday XIII, ruler of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Though no official release date for Fred’s forever stamp has been given, Mister Rogers is just one of many legendary figures whose visages will grace a piece of postage in 2018. Singer/activist Lena Horne will be the 41st figure to appear as part of the USPS’s Black Heritage series, while former Beatle John Lennon will be the face of the newest Music Icons collection. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will also be honored.

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