Maria Popova, at Brain Pickings, happened upon a treasure trove of early NASA (and its airplane-only predecessor NACA) archive photos. They are really something. From biplanes to the Mercury capsule, pre-1950 aeronautics seemed to live by the motto of “If we build it, then we can go there.” That’s a sentiment we could use a bit more of.
This beautiful, glittering swirl is named, rather unpoetically, J125013.50+073441.5. A glowing haze of material seems to engulf the galaxy, stretching out into space in different directions and forming a fuzzy streak in this image. It is a starburst galaxy — a name given to galaxies that show unusually high rates of star formation. The regions where new stars are being born are highlighted by sparkling bright blue regions along the galactic arms.
Studying starburst galaxies can tell us a lot about galactic evolution and star formation. These galaxies start off with huge amounts of gas, which is used to form new stars. This period of furious star formation is only a phase; once all the gas is used up, this starbirth slows down. Other famous starbursts captured by Hubble include the Antennae Galaxies and Messier 82, the latter of which is forming new stars ten times faster than our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Laura Marling’s songs dig well beyond the everyday, with each sung in a wise, dusky, brooding voice that always seems in control of its surroundings. The U.K. folksinger’s fourth album, Once I Was an Eagle, takes a remarkable journey over the course of 16 hypnotic, subtly inventive songs.