Why a mysterious fireball in the skies has scientists puzzled
Hundreds of people across Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern parts of England spotted an unusual fireball lighting up the night sky. CNN's Kristin Fisher reports on what people think it was.
01:47 - Source: CNN
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TOPSHOT - Spectators watch as the Artemis I unmanned lunar rocket lifts off from launch pad 39B at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on November 16, 2022. - NASA's Artemis 1 mission is a 25-and-a-half day voyage beyond the far side of the Moon and back. The meticulously choreographed uncrewed flight should yield spectacular images as well as valuable scientific data. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Pillars of Creation are set off in a kaleidoscope of colour in the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope's near-infrared-light view. The pillars look like arches and spires rising out of a desert landscape, but are filled with semi-transparent gas and dust, and ever changing. This is a region where young stars are forming -- or have barely burst from their dusty cocoons as they continue to form. Protostars are the scene-stealers in this Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) image. These are the bright red orbs that sometimes appear with eight diffraction spikes. When knots with sufficient mass form within the pillars, they begin to collapse under their own gravity, slowly heat up, and eventually begin shining brightly. Along the edges of the pillars are wavy lines that look like lava. These are ejections from stars that are still forming. Young stars periodically shoot out jets that can interact within clouds of material, like these thick pillars of gas and dust. This sometimes also results in bow shocks, which can form wavy patterns like a boat does as it moves through water. These young stars are estimated to be only a few hundred thousand years old, and will continue to form for millions of years. Although it may appear that near-infrared light has allowed Webb to "pierce through" the background to reveal great cosmic distances beyond the pillars, the interstellar medium stands in the way, like a drawn curtain. This is also the reason why there are no distant galaxies in this view. This translucent layer of gas blocks our view of the deeper universe. Plus, dust is lit up by the collective light from the packed "party" of stars that have burst free from the pillars. It's like standing in a well-lit room looking out a window -- the interior light reflects on the pane, obscuring the scene outside and, in turn, illuminating the activity at the party inside. Webb's new view of the Pillars of Creation will help researchers revamp models of star formation.
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Swift's X-Ray Telescope captured the afterglow of GRB 221009A about an hour after it was first detected. The bright rings form as a result of X-rays scattered by otherwise unobservable dust layers within our galaxy that lie in the direction of the burst. The dark vertical line is an artifact of the imaging system.
Credit: NASA/Swift/A. Beardmore (University of Leicester)
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