The Tadpole Nebula

The_TadpoleWhen I was a kid, one of the pleasures of spring was going to the creek and catching tadpoles. Even though I was interested in astronomy, I never thought of looking for one in the night sky. This bright blue tadpole seems to swim through the inky blackness of space. Catalogued as IRAS 20324+4057, “The Tadpole” is a clump of gas and dust giving birth to a bright protostar, one of the earliest steps in building a star.

There are multiple protostars in the tadpole’s head; the glowing yellow one in this image is the most luminous and massive. When this protostar has gathered together enough mass from its surroundings, it will become a fully-fledged young star.

The intense blue glow is caused by intense ultraviolet radiation from nearby stars. Pressure from that UV sculpts the tail into a long, wiggly shape. The Tadpole spans roughly a light-year from head to tail-tip, and contains gas with about four times the mass of the Sun.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

NCC 1365

NGC 1365NGC 1365 is enormous. It is one of the largest galaxies known to astronomers—over 200,000 light-years across. This, plus the sharply defined bar of old stars across its structure is why it is also known as the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy. Astronomers believe that the Milky Way, which is only half as big, may look very similar to this galaxy. The bright centre of the galaxy is thought to be caused by huge amounts of superhot gas ejected from the ring of material circling a central black hole. Young luminous hot stars, born in the interstellar clouds, give the arms their blue color. The bar and spiral pattern rotates, with one full turn taking about 350 million years. NGC 1365 is about 61 million light-years away in the constellation Fornax (the Furnace).

Image Credit: ESO

Mergers and Acquisitions

NGC 799 & NGC 800This pair of galaxies, NGC 799 (below) and NGC 800 (above), is located in the constellation of Cetus (The Whale) about 300 million light-years away. Our face-on point of view lets us see these objects are both spiral galaxies with characteristic long arms winding towards a bright bulge at the center.

It may appear that these spiral galaxies are coexisting in an everlasting peace, but that is unlikely. What we see is probably the calm before the storm. Typically, when two galaxies are close enough, they interact over hundreds of millions of years through mutual gravitational attraction. In some cases, only minor interactions occur, causing shape distortions, but sometimes galaxies collide, merging to form a single, new and larger galaxy.

We’ll have to check back in a few hundred million years.

Image Credit: ESO

A Large Galaxy and Its Satellite

NGC1232The colors of the different regions of NGC 1232 stand out in this picture—the central areas contain older reddish stars while the spiral arms are populated by younger blue stars and many star-forming regions. This galaxy is about 100 million light-years away and about twice the size of our Milky Way galaxy. Note the companion galaxy at the lower left, shaped like the squashed greek letter “theta”. NGC 1232A, the satellite galaxy of NGC 1232, is thought to be the cause of unusual bending in the spiral arms in its larger neighbor.

Image Credit: ESO

NGC 2481

ngc-2841NGC 2841 lies 46 million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major. It currently has a relatively low star formation rate compared to other spirals that are ablaze with emission nebulae. Notably missing are pinkish emission nebulae that accompany new star birth. It is likely that the radiation and supersonic winds from fiery, super-hot, young blue stars cleared out the remaining gas, and  shut down further nearby star formation. MGC 2481 is prime example of a flocculent spiral galaxy, one whose arms are patchy and discontinuous. It has no grand design structure apparent when seen in visible light as in this Hubble image, although some inner spiral arms can be seen in the near infrared.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

That Was The Year That Was: Fits 10, 11, and 12

We’re almost done with 2020, and the last quarter has been a doozy.

Fit the Tenth—October: They’re All In

The Left has given up on any pretense of fair play for the coming election. They are lying brazenly, and they’re pulled out all the stops on their Internet censorship. The censorship of this morning’s Hunter Biden story from the NY Post by Facebook and Twitter show the Left really has reached the point where they feel they must use any means necessary to defeat Donald Trump.

In order to confirm the censorship was happening, I attempted to post a link to the Biden story on Twitter. I was blocked.

Then, I posted this tweet.Twitter has suspended the New York Post‘s account and suspended or locked the accounts of several people who tried to link to the Biden article, including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Twitter responded to users’ questions about the blocking and suspensions with tweets from @TwitterSafey containing various excuses, but while I was typing this post, this tweet from@Jack popped up in my timeline—Twitter may be feeling some heat, but I’m pessimistic about their ultimate response. Based on my personal experience from having been unjustly banned for truthful reporting, I expect that Twitter will do its damnedest to continue its censorship. (I was banned for allegedly harassing Brett Kimberlin. I got the @wjjhoge account back when the false criminal complaint against me dropped for lack of evidence. I suspect that their lawyers figured out that I had an open-and-shut defamation case against them.)

The Left has pushed all their chips out on the table. If Trump wins the election, I expect the Left, including Facebook and Twitter, will go down swinging. Things have gotten ugly; I’m afraid they’re about to get uglier.

Fit the Eleventh—November: Quote of the Day (10 November)

Wäre es da
Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung
Löste das Volk auf und
Wählte ein anderes?
Would it not in that case be simpler
for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

—Bertolt Brecht

Fit the Twelfth— December: Christmas in My Hometown

2020 hasn’t been kind to Nashville, and Christmas has been especially ugly. Today’s bombing occurred n the street across the street from an AT&T facility and has caused disruption of communications throughout Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, including 911 service in many communities. WTFV in Nashville reports that 911 centers as far away as Knoxville and Louisville have been affected. The block between Second and Third Avenues and Commerce and Church Streets has had some sort of AT&T facility since the first dial telephone exchange was built there in 1919.

I used to work in that part of downtown Nashville, Back in the ’60s, WMAK’s studios were in the Exchange Building on the 300 block of Church Street and WLAC’s studio were at the corner of Fourth and Church. 50 years ago, Second Avenue was mostly filled with rundown warehouses, but the neighborhood had been revitalized and had become one of the bright spots in Nashville.

The Nashville Metro Police have released this surveillance picture of the bombing suspect vehicle.

* * * * *

Even if it turns out worse, I’m ready to move on to 2021.

A Big Cluster of Stars Near the Galactic Center

hs-1999-30-b-full_jpgThis star cluster lurks less than 100 light-years from the very center of our galaxy. With an equivalent mass greater than 10,000 stars like our Sun, the monster cluster is 10 times larger than a typical young star clusters found in the Milky Way. This cluster is destined to be ripped apart in just a few million years by gravitational tidal forces in the galaxy’s core, but during its brief lifespan, it will shine more brightly than almost every other star cluster in the galaxy.

Image Credit: NASA

The Cartwheel Galaxy

cartwheel_galaxyThe Cartwheel Galaxy (aka ESO 350-40) is a ring galaxy about 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor. It is about 150,000 light-years diameter. The galaxy was once a normal spiral galaxy before it apparently underwent a head-on collision with a smaller companion approximately 200 million years ago. When the other galaxy passed through the Cartwheel Galaxy, the collision caused a powerful shock wave. Moving at high speed, the shock wave swept up gas and dust, creating a starburst around the galaxy’s center portion forming the bluish ring around the central brighter portion. The galaxy appears to be retaking the form a spiral galaxy with thin arms beginning to spread from its central core. The Cartwheel contains an exceptionally large number of black hole binary X-ray sources because many massive stars formed in the ring.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA

What’s On Second

Here’s the breakdown as of 7:30 pm ET this evening of the filings in the Texas v. Pennsylvania, et al. lawsuit.

Texas has filed its complaint. Donald Trump, in his individual capacity, has filed to intervene as an plaintiff-intervenor. Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Utah have also filed to intervene as plaintiff-intervenors. Others have also filed to intervene as plaintiff-intervenors as well—

One such filing is from a group of state legislators from Michigan, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Another is from an organization called the Freedom Fund. A third is from another group of private citizens and state legislators for the four defendant states.

Amicus briefs in support of Texas have been filed by group of 106 members of the House of Representatives; by the Speaker of the Pennsylvania House and Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania Senate; and by a group of state legislators from Alaska, Arizona, and Idaho. A group called the Christian Family Coalition has also filed a brief in support of the plaintiff. Oh, and Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia have filed a joint brief supporting Texas.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have all filed oppositions to Texas’ motion to file and Texas’ complaint.

The District of Columbia, the states of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Island have filed a joint brief in support of the defendants. The City of Detroit has also filed a brief in support of the defendants, as have a group of RINO ex-public officials.

Arizona and Ohio have filed briefs in support of neither side that ask the court to resolve the matter in order to prevent future elections from having to deal with the same question again.

IANAL, but from my initial scan of the filings, the basis for Texas’s complaint seems plausible to me. The general thrust for the arguments from the defendants and their amici is that the Supreme Court has no business butting in on how states conduct elections, that Texas doesn’t have standing to bring the suit, and that res judicata resulting from various low ercourt suit forecloses any further litigation.

Fasten your seatbelts and stay tuned.

UPDATE—When I checked the Supreme Court website around 8:30 pm, I found one more brief had been submitted. It is from a group of state legislators from Georgia in support of Texas.

UPDATE 2—When I checked around 11 pm, L. Lin Woods amicus brief had been filed. He supports Texas.

Hate Crimes

According to the most recent FBI statistics, Jews are far and away the group most likely to be the victims of hate crimes.

I have an hypothesis to propose: Jews are most likely to be victims of hate crimes in the places where they live. Half the Jews in America live in these four states:

CA 1.19 M
NY 1.18 M
FL 657 k
NJ 547 k

Hmmmm. I wonder what further examination of the data will show.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

Day by day, people sue or are sued, sometimes justly, sometimes not. In the case of each of the LOLsuit filed by Team Kimberlin, justice prevailed when the law was enforced and the their cases went down in flames. Seven years ago today, fairly early in the whole process, I tried to warn them that they were doomed, but they refused to pay attention to the Civics Lesson.

* * * * *

We have three branches of government in the State of Maryland. The Legislative Branch makes the laws. The Executive Branch carries out the laws. The Judicial Branch decides cases and interprets the laws.

The Attorney General is part of the Executive Branch. He offers advice to the Legislature and to the various departments of the Executive Branch, and he represents the State before the Court of Special Appeal, the Court of Appeals, and the federal courts. He does not decide the meaning of laws.

The Judicial Branch does that.

So the Legislature may have an opinion about what they intended a law to do, and the Attorney General may offer his opinion as well, but the courts have the final say about the meaning of laws.

There is a pecking order among the courts. Here in Maryland, the District Courts are on the bottom rung. The next step up is the Circuit Courts. These are the courts that are the usual triers of fact. The Court of Special Appeals is the first level appellate court in the state. The Court of Appeals is the higher appellate court. It’s word is final on state law. The only court above it is the Supreme Court of the United States and only for federal issues.

So how do the U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland and the U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit fit in? They are in a parallel judicial system. Of course, their rulings are binding on any state court with respect to federal issues, but federal issues only. Thus, how the U. S. District Court ruled on a federal law might provide guidance to a state court on a related issue, but the ruling would not be binding per se with respect to a case relating only to state law.

So relying on a legislative memo or report or on an Attorney General’s opinion at odds with a Circuit Court’s ruling that the Court of Appeals has refused to review is, shall we say, risky. Relying on federal court decision which the Circuit Court has ruled inapplicable when the Court of Appeals has refused to review the Circuit Courts ruling is similarly unwise.

Here endeth the lesson.

* * * * *

Every one of Brett Kimberlin’s brass knuckles reputation management LOLsuits failed. Every claim he made was either dismissed, thrown out at summary judgment, or a judge found against him at trial. He lost every appeal. He’s pro se legal machinations became the stuff of jokes. This is from six years ago yesterday at Instapundt


The Dreadful Pro-Se Schmalfeldt did no better.

Our Next Door Neighbor

proxima_centauriThe star shown in this Hubble image isn’t very bright. It can’t be seen with the naked eye. Yet, it is our Sun’s closest stellar neighbor. Proxima Centauri, in the constellation of Centaurus (The Centaur), is just over four light-years from Earth. It is quite small compared to other stars, only about an eighth of the mass of the Sun.

Its average luminosity is very low, but, on occasion, its brightness increases. It is what is known as a “flare star,” prone to random and dramatic changes in brightness. Convection processes in the star’s interior not only trigger brilliant bursts of stellar output, but that stirring, combined with other factors, means that Proxima Centauri has a rather extended life expectancy. Astronomers predict that this star will remain middle-aged—what’s known as a “main sequence” star—for another four trillion years. That’s roughly 300 times the age of the current Universe.

Image Credit: NASA / ESA

Coming Attractions

Stacy McCain and I will present a special edition of The Other Podcast Live beginning as the polls start closing at 7 ET pm, tomorrow night. Join us on Podbean.

Download the Podbean app for your mobile device, and you can join us and our guest blogger/commentators live in our online studio.

The first part of our coverage will begin at 7 pm ET.

The second part will begin at 10 pm.

The Hogewash Poll

This is the last of this month’s week-long polls. I’ll have one more over the weekend before the election.