Ghostly & Hypnotic

I just can’t get over this image. It’s been sitting in one of my browser tabs for days and I’ve already showed it to all my friends (pardon me if you get this message more than once etc., etc.), yet I still haven’t had enough of it. So enter the records, it shall.

It’s weird, right? Like someone took a regular space photo and then painted that spiral over it — badly! Or like one of those mesmerizing examples of neural style transfer or creepy AI-generated art.

What it actually is, is a binary system where one of the stars has started to eject its envelopes at the end of its life, while the other still circles it, leaving a spiral trail in the outflowing gas. The regular gaps between the trails correspond to the 800-year orbital period of the binary.

This was an Astronomy Picture of the Day for 2018 July 8. You can read more about the image and the spiral in it there.

Image Credit: NASAESAHubbleHLA; Processing & Copyright: Domingo Pestana & Raul Villaverde.

Site Updates

Being short on actual content, this week I bring you an announcement of some long-postponed site updates. I updated:

  • The About page, with some almost personal information
  • The Gallery page, with some important credits and a note for artists who happen to find their art used here in a way they don’t approve of
  • The Fanfiction page, with content ratings
  • Such stories that have the MA rating, with content descriptors/warnings.

In other news, I managed to crawl out of the quagmire, I’m playing Mass Effect: Andromeda again, and Story by R. McKee is an excellent read.

Image: The Bubble Nebula, by Russell Croman

Four Ways to Back Up Your Manuscript

Lately I’ve been following more and more full-time authors on Twitter and several of them mentioned the dubious practice of emailing themselves the current version of their manuscript, as backup. And sure, it works. The same way an open fire in your backyard works as a source of heat for regular daily cooking when you’ve got a perfectly functional stove in the kitchen.

Continue reading Four Ways to Back Up Your Manuscript

How Much SETI Has Been Done?

The completeness of the search for signs of extraterrestrial radio transmissions and other technosignatures to date is roughly equivalent to having searched a small swimming pool for evidence of fish in all of Earth’s oceans.

How Much SETI Has Been Done? Finding Needles in the n-dimensional Cosmic Haystack
Jason T. WrightShubham Kanodia, and Emily Lubar 
The Astronomical Journal
Volume 156Number 6

Image credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF