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Sunday, April 20, 2014
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Published: 1/31/2014

EDITORIAL

Star-struck

It may be another century or two before humans have the technological means to travel to nearby stars. Until then, we must be content with glimpses of other worlds provided by telescopes and deep space probes.

Thanks to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Hubble Space Telescope, we now have the best pictures yet of massive galaxy clusters formed shortly after the Big Bang. The long exposure image of one cluster gives a glimpse of the young galaxies, and what the universe looked like 12 billion years ago.

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array recently captured and enhanced X-ray images of the remnants of a long-exploded star. It is one of the most stunning pictures NASA has ever shared with the public: It looks like a right hand, spanning millions of miles in the heart of deep space.

Earthlings will have to wait until the James Webb Space Telescope is launched in 2018 to see an exo-planet — a so-called super-Earth 40 light years away. In the meantime, scientists think they already know what they’ll see when the images come back — that the exo-planet is perpetually cloudy.

Humans are still at the beginning of an incredible adventure. Why should we limit our imaginations to where we can travel on this planet, when there’s so much more beyond the stars?



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