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Hubble Neatly Captures Messier's Ancient Stars

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the leaves-them-on-public-display dept.

NASA 31

New submitter DevotedSkeptic writes "Hubble has produced a crisp image of the Messier 56 Globular Cluster. Messier originally noted that this object was nebula without stars. When he originally viewed the cluster in 1779, telescopes were not powerful enough to see more than a fuzzy ball. The crisp focused view we get from Hubble enables us to easily see the globular cluster and ancient stars contained within. Comparing observations from Hubble with results from the standard theory of stellar evolution, scientists have calculated the age Messier 56 at 13 billion years."

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its (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41127573)

its full of stars

Re:its (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#41127689)

its full of stars

Thirteen billion years to slashdot.

Re:its (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41129009)

Damn Nature, you old

Re:its (2)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#41129893)

Looking at shots like that I'm always amazed how anyone can truly believe there isn't life out there. Just look at how many stars you have out there, if even only 1 in 10 million have a planet in the right zone you are talking about hundreds of millions of planets!

Now whether or not one of the older civilizations have developed FTL travel and is now poking the monkeys is another debate entirely, but I don't see how anyone can look at a picture like that and believe we're the only ones looking out at pictures like that.

Re:its (0)

mcswell (1102107) | more than 2 years ago | (#41131191)

In this particular case, I doubt there's any life in that globular cluster. That's because (if I'm remembering correctly) planets do not have stable orbits around stars that are that densely packed. Besides, if those stars are 13 billion years old, their metalicity is very low, meaning there probably weren't enough heavy elements to form planets at that time.

The place to look for life-bearing planets is probably around stars that formed in the arms of spiral galaxies. I'm told there's such a star about nine light-minutes from us.

Re:its (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#41132209)

Life as WE know it...FTFY. As we have seen with worms living next to volcanic vents, creatures eating methane, frankly what can survive in places we'd consider hell is just amazing.

Again that does NOT mean they are cruising around a cornfield in Alabama fucking with farmer Joe, but to say that none of those stars, even the ones on the edges, have even a chance at some sort of life? I find that awful hard to believe.

Re:its (1)

mcswell (1102107) | more than 2 years ago | (#41132963)

The problem is not that at any given moment, a planet in this cluster would be inimical to life. The problem is that (as I understand it) planets there do not have stable orbits. Going from cold enough to freeze CO2, for example, to hot enough to melt lead is not likely to lead to stable atmospheres, or even any atmosphere.

Re:its (3, Insightful)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#41133605)

Please explain and demonstrate how you get life from non-life. Until biologists get to that point, your view is nothing more than blind faith. You don't know, I don't know, but what we DO know about life is that even its simplest forms is mind boggling complex. Hundreds of thousands of computer code base pairs in even the simplest single celled organism and no realistic theory as to how it got there in the first place. (No, chance is NOT an explanation. "The Monkeys typing Shakespeare theorem" has shown to not be possible. There is neither enough time or enough matter in the universe to go through even a fraction of the possibilities.)

All life on this planet we have found thus far is carbon based. No alternate biochemistry has been shown to be even theoretically realistic
All carbon based life we have found thus far requires liquid water in some form or another. This makes life impossible in the vast majority of the universe.
Most star systems either lack the heavy elements necessary for life (too far from the galactic core) or have too much ionizing radiation for life to survive (too close to the galactic core.)
Most star systems are binary, no life there as stable orbits are not realistically possible.
etc.

The sad fact is that a hundred trillion times zero is still zero.

Could there be life on other planets? Sure. There could also be a monolith in orbit around Jupiter. Given the evidence we do have about life, it's complexities, and limits, one should be skeptical about the possibility of life outside of Earths atmosphere until that evidence of its existence is shown.

Re:its (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#41134921)

Oh Lord...one of those that believes what some 1800 year dead goat herder wrote about some 2000+ year dead guy, right? Its called LIGHTNING friend, and its already shown that complex chemicals form when you zap base chemicals repeatedly, enjoy the wiki article [wikipedia.org] about the experiements done a half a century ago.

As for why it didn't "instantly come to life"? That takes about a half a billion years or so, and needless to say nobody is gonna run an experiment for a half a billion years.

But you go back to believing a white man sits on a cloud, banged some girl down here, and made a "half God" ala Hercules, because that is so much more believable than natural evolution.

Re:its (2)

Byrel (1991884) | more than 2 years ago | (#41140395)

Regardless of how ridiculous you may feel a scientific statement to be, citing an unrelated experiment and indulging in ad hominem is not appropriate or helpful. The basic claim was clearly falsifiable: the complexity of a simple living organism is sufficiently great as to make it unlikely to have developed on any other planet in the universe. What, pray tell, does an experiment demonstrating the production of amino acids with a spark demonstrate? That it is possible for a system of some complexity to develop? That has no bearing at all on Crosshair's point, which is not based on possibility, but probability.

Instead, you should try actual running some figures through the Drake equation. Suppose we figure the probability per galaxy, and take the Milky Way as a rough mean galaxy. So, we're looking at around 6.1e10 FGK-stars, which are reasonably similar to our sun. (We have to operate under the assumption that we're calculating the probability of simple life as we know it. Otherwise, the variability gets too large; we DON'T know what it would look like, or where it could develop.) Now, we find habitable zone planets around about 3% of stars we survey. Suppose half are rocky, leaving us with 9.2e8 habitable zone, rocky planets.

Now a lot of those are in globular clusters, etc. where some folks think life is less likely to develop. So lets discount 95% of those planets, leaving us with 4.6e7 planets. Or about 50 million habitable planets per galaxy. With 1e11 galaxies in the universe, that leaves us with 4.6e18 habitable planets. Now comes the tricky part. How do we know the probability of the spontaneous development of life in the history of the universe is greater the 1 in 4.6e18? *Shrugs* I don't think anyone really has a good handle on what the probability is, but most folks would put it significantly higher than that.

Really, all Crosshair advocated was the Rare Earth hypothesis. It isn't completely mainstream, but I'm not aware of anyone who thinks it's discredited.

Re:its (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#41143241)

The problem with Drake's is as I told the other guy, it automatically assumes you are dealing with weak hairless monkeys which most likely would NOT be a preferable form, we're too soft. Look at the creatures that live near the steam vents, something like that could be happily living under the ice on Europa right now. We're not gonna sit down and have a conversation with it but that doesn't mean it isn't alive, just as those creatures by the vents gobbling methane are alive.

And if you had read in of the other posts by the guy I was responding to you'd know he is a "God and Guns" type that will jump through frankly insane logic hoops trying to "prove" that what some 1800+ year dead goat herder wrote about some 2000+ year old dead guy that frankly we have no real proof even lived that its not even funny.

Look if you want to believe some old white guy sat on a fluffy cloud, waved a magic wand and created living beings out of nothing but dirt and his awesomeness that is your business friend. I just think we have a hell of a lot more evidence that live evolved over billions of years, with starts, stops, and dead ends, including quite a few dead ends in our own family tree, than to believe in a sky bully. Especially the one the "God and Guns" type believe in, where he rewards the rich for being douchbags while spits on the poor for not being big enough douchebags to become independently wealthy.

Every time I hear a G&G bible thumper all I can think of is Supply Side Jesus [youtube.com] which is about as much to do as the character in the bible as I have to do with a T-101.

Re:its (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41153183)

It does no such thing. The only thing Drake equation assumes is that the alien civilization is of a kind that "releases detectable signs of their existence into space".

Such signs would almost certainly be released by their technology and not the aliens themselves and therefore render their actual biological form largely irrelevant for the purposes of the equation.

Re:its (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#41161655)

Oh Lord...one of those that believes what some 1800 year dead goat herder wrote about some 2000+ year dead guy, right? Its called LIGHTNING friend, and its already shown that complex chemicals form when you zap base chemicals repeatedly, enjoy the wiki article [wikipedia.org] about the experiements done a half a century ago.

As opposed to an Atheism: The belief that there was nothing & nothing happened to nothing & then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything & then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason which then turned into dinosaurs.

We can exchange insults back and forth all day, but ridicule is not an argument, you're the one who brought religion into this, not me. I'm not going to fall for your diversion. You'll have to do better than that and give evidence to support your view.

Now to get back on topic: You DO realize that the Miller–Urey experiment has been discredited for decades. (Yes it's still included in some textbooks, my mom is a teacher and the maps in the classrooms still had "Soviet Union" on them in the mid 2000's.)

1. The experiment used the wrong gasses. Miller used water, methane, ammonia, and hydrogen in his experiment. While this was in line with what scientists thought the early atmosphere was like at the time, this view soon changed. Hydrogen would have escaped the earths atmosphere as it does today, ammonia is too unstable to exist for the length of time required. Most scientists now think that the Earth’s early atmosphere consisted of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor. Lab experiments show that this gas mixture can't create organic materials in Miller-Urey-type experiments. This fact alone relegates the Miller-Urey experiment to irrelevance. It was an interesting experiment, but science passed it by.

2. The Miller–Urey experiment produces both left-handed and right-handed amino acids in identical quantities. All amino acids in proteins are left-handed, while all sugars in DNA and RNA, and in the metabolic pathways, are right-handed. The opposite types are not only useless but can also be toxic to life. Right-handed and left-handed amino acids are almost always chemically identical. No way for non-life to tell the difference, yet that difference will prevent proper protein formation. For primitive life that difference is lethal.

3. Miller had to use a cold trap to preserve the amino acids that were formed, the same environment that created them also destroyed them and limited their concentration in the system.

4. Even IF the Miller Urey experiment was valid, you are still nowhere close to getting a living cell. How do those amino acids get arranged into a self-replicating form? Chemical evolution is dead, amino acids do not self arrange into biologically useful proteins. RNA world doesn't work either, the best lab experiments can get is 10% replication in lab conditions that look nothing like what an early earth environment would look like.

How do you get chemicals to arrange only right-handed amino acids into a computer code 500,000 base pairs long that codes for left-handed proteins? A single byte (or 8 bits) can represent 4 DNA base pairs, so the simplest life that we know about and can conceive of effectively requires 125 KB of code to operate. Mathematicians have worked on this and there is neither enough time or enough matter in the universe for this to be even remotely possible from simple chance interactions of chemicals. That's JUST the DNA. Where does the cellular machinery that can process that DNA come from?

My view is based on the scientific evidence. You hold your view despite the evidence. Today, science tells us that even simple life is extraordinarily complex and requires a large amount of information to be simply "put in" at the beginning to get the process started. That does not rule out the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, but it does make it very unlikely unless some mechanism is found that shows otherwise.

If you are serious about defending your view then simply show the complete mechanism that takes non-life to life. Show the evidence, is it really that hard? If you don't know, then you are simply holding your view because you want it to be true, not because there is evidence supporting it. Simply admit that you want it to be true and hope that someday there will be evidence to support that view.

As for why it didn't "instantly come to life"? That takes about a half a billion years or so, and needless to say nobody is gonna run an experiment for a half a billion years.

I never asked why it didn't "instantly come to life". I simply asked you to show the mechanism of how you get self replicating life from non-living chemicals. Surely you at least have a theoretical mechanism? As for you claiming "half a billion years or so", that must mean you DO know of a mechanism, since you are claiming to know how long it takes...............or it just means that you don't know and are just pulling out a number and hoping it's true.

But you go back to believing a white man sits on a cloud, banged some girl down here, and made a "half God" ala Hercules, because that is so much more believable than natural evolution.

*Yawn* Dodge the question all you want with incoherent rantings and ad hominems. I asked you a scientific question, not a religious one, stay on topic. The point remains that you can't answer it. Without being able to answer the question you have no scientific or philosophical basis for for your view, you just want it to be true. Nothing wrong with that, but at least be honest about it.

/good night

Re:its (1)

robsku (1381635) | more than 2 years ago | (#41163259)

Oh Lord...one of those that believes what some 1800 year dead goat herder wrote about some 2000+ year dead guy, right? Its called LIGHTNING friend, and its already shown that complex chemicals form when you zap base chemicals repeatedly, enjoy the wiki article [wikipedia.org] about the experiements done a half a century ago.

As opposed to an Atheism: The belief that there was nothing & nothing happened to nothing & then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything & then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason which then turned into dinosaurs.

I think you're post makes some really great points, but I want to point out that this is not a claim I would expect from any atheist, nor scientist. And I'm not atheist nor christian either - I'm just bored of reading all these "nothing came from nothing" statements attributed to atheists usually by christian nutjobs with little understanding of what they are talking about (anti-theism).
 

Re:its (1)

Crosshair84 (2598247) | more than 2 years ago | (#41212689)

The point of the response is not to be a serious argument, but to simply apply the "Reductio ad absurdum" fallacy to Atheism in the same way Atheists apply it to Christianity. (Whose knowledge of Christianity frequently seems to be limited to that found in a coloring book.) I was using it to simply point out that ridicule is not an argument and does nothing to advance a discussion.

There of course IS an argument that can be formulated against Atheisim that goes along those lines, mainly the problem of an infinite regress and the origin of the universe. An actual past infinity cannot exist, as it leads to logical absurdities, there MUST be an uncaused cause that terminates the line of past events. A cause which exists necessarily. Theists have argued that God is the uncaused cause. Atheists tended to argue that the Universe existed necessarily.

The problem of course is that the eternal universe does not answer the problem of an infinite regress. Add to that the advent of Big Bang Cosmology in the early 20th century, which pointed to a universe that did not exist necessarily. In 2003 the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem definitively proved this. Multiverse, quantum loop gravity, and other speculative models are all subject to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem, which disproves the possibility of a past eternal universe which is on average expanding, as ours is.

I personally prefer Natural Theology, as it bypasses all the objection against Christianity that Atheists use and it forces them to answer some strong scientific and philosophical objections to their worldview.

Re:its (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 2 years ago | (#41127901)

My God, you beat me to it.

The Day we Found the Universe (5, Interesting)

esldude (1157749) | more than 2 years ago | (#41127631)

http://www.amazon.com/The-Day-We-Found-Universe/dp/0307276600/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345962369&sr=8-1&keywords=the+day+we+discovered+the+universe#reader_0307276600 [amazon.com] Delightful book about how we came to figure out there was more than the milky way, and just how much more. Details the history of the instruments used, the scientists involved and the ideas that battled it out until we understood how big things were. The Hubble is in the lineage of important instruments helping us learn how big all of space is. All the way back to 13 billion years or so of it.

Re:The Day we Found the Universe (0)

Weatherlawyer (2596357) | more than 2 years ago | (#41127859)

Almost a pity to have to tell you that the least constant constant in physics is Hubble's Constant.
It's so bad it's not even a factor let alone a constant.
It would be just bad if it varied by one or two units. It is argued that it varies by orders of magnitude.

So they are using something that is orders of magnitude out to use orders of magnitude to tell us how old we are?
There's interesting, isn't it.
Dyna fo, chwarae teg, ynte.

A little tribute to the Welsh there, whom according to Julius Caesar, thought the sky was falling down on their heads.
It took an English man to prove them right.
Bloody saxons. There's too many of them in my country.
Bloody Romans!
Shit!

Mustn't grumble.

 

Re:The Day we Found the Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41131215)

Almost a pity to have to tell you that the least constant constant in physics is Hubble's Constant.

You do understand there is a difference between the Hubble Constant and the Hubble Telescope, right? And that the telescope and modern models of stellar evolution, not the Hubble Constant, were used to make the estimate referred to in the summary?

Lessons for editors, #402 (4, Interesting)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | more than 2 years ago | (#41127639)

"Hubble has produced a crisp image of the Messier 56 Globular Cluster. Messier originally noted that this object was a nebula without stars. When he originally viewed the cluster in 1779, telescopes were not powerful enough to see more than a fuzzy ball. The crisp focused view we get from Hubble enables us to easily see the globular cluster and the ancient stars contained within. Comparing observations from Hubble with results from the standard theory of stellar evolution, scientists have calculated the age of Messier 56 at 13 billion years."

And this was an easy one.

GIVEN THIS THERE MUST BE BILLIONS OF GODS !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41127653)

I wonder if there is a God of Gods? And do the Gods go around killing each other in the name of themselves? And are there Gods who don't believe in Gods? What would those be called? How does Mitt Romney fit in this? Can be find a way? And if Romney becomes God, and he dies (Gods die?), does that mean Ryan becomes a God? My God, the guy is barely out of diapers! And what of George Burns?

Uhm, yes. Over 7 billion that we know of. (4, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#41127797)

I wonder if there is a God of Gods?

Or do you? A question only you can answer...

And do the Gods go around killing each other in the name of themselves?

Yes.

And are there Gods who don't believe in Gods?

Yes.

What would those be called?

On this planet they're known as Humans, regardless of whether they believe in themselves.

How does Mitt Romney fit in this?

The Universe is really big; Yes, large enough for even his ego. The planet on the other hand...

Can be find a way?

No, "be" isn't a proper subject.

And if Romney becomes God, and he dies (Gods die?), does that mean Ryan becomes a God?

Woah, slow down. Of course gods die. Even the mythical ones have been dying ever since we started dreaming them up. See also: Greek Mythology.

When a god dies it doesn't spawn a new god, otherwise that "When Animals Attack" show would have an ending more like "Planet of the Apes".

My God, the guy is barely out of diapers! And what of George Burns?

I'm pretty sure "My God" implies slavery... George Burns was the best God, IMO.

Who the **** do we think we are? (-1, Offtopic)

Weatherlawyer (2596357) | more than 2 years ago | (#41127785)

[IMGCENTER=http://files.myopera.com/Weatherlawyer/blog/Messiers%20object%20an%20Archimedes%20spiral.JPG] This picture kind of sums up everything I have been thinking the last day or so. So remote that Messier couldn't make it out much more than as a patchy blur 2 or 3 centuries ago.

Now I can see spirals in it. And what is the use of the Hubble?
It can tell us how old we are. Why is this thing set out in an Archimedes spiral?
That's what I want to know. Who the hell cares how old it is?

Stupid stupid people.
But can we at least agree that it is beautiful?

So why isn't it ugly?

We have never seen it before. It had no reason to be pretty.
Yet it is.

Diamond bright, the sky at night reflects the glory of Jehovah.

 

Re:Who the **** do we think we are? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41127941)

hu?

Too close-in (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41127867)

That is a nice image, lots of stars and lots of contrast. For "site-seeing" astronomy, to me it would be 'prettier' if some of the surrounding sky were also shown. For 'science' astronomy, this may be right on. You can grab this with some binoculars in moderately dark skies.

I'm from (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41128521)

And I've got to correct this according to my Biblicalable teacherings.

First it is hundreds and hundreds of years old, and they are not stars, but angels floating in heaven.

That's what the schoolbook says.

Really? (1)

pease1 (134187) | more than 2 years ago | (#41132645)

Really slow news day. This is a pretty photo looking for a press release, IMHO. Today, even moderate amateur telescopes resolve M-56. That they improved the H-R diagram using HST, is good science, but hardly /. worthy.

13 Billion Years! (1)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 2 years ago | (#41133923)

So, at 13 billion years old then this gobular cluster contains stars that are almost as old as the Universe, and older than our galaxy. Makes you wonder, if there are any worlds there (I know probaby metal poor) then any nascent life would have had so much time to get going, even under the feeble light of a red dwarf, that it could well be anything by now. Fascinating.

Re:13 Billion Years! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41133959)

If scientists claim the universe is just a little more than 13 billion years old. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_universe ) How is it possible that they date the light we see from this messier's star cluster to be about 13 billion years old? Yet when we look at it it doesn't look like a big bang but rather a long formed star cluster without any big bang in sight. How long did it take the cluster to become a cluster if the big bang just happened? Something doesn't add up.

Re:13 Billion Years! (2)

shoor (33382) | more than 2 years ago | (#41134321)

How is it possible that they date the light we see from this messier's star cluster to be about 13 billion years old?

I'm not an astronomer but I read 'science for the layman' type books and watch the documentaries on PBS. I was wondering about the age of these stars as stated in the article compared to the age of the universe myself. But, they aren't saying the light we see is 13 billion years old, anymore than the light we see from the sun is 5 billion years old.

Presumably these stars formed in one of the first galaxies, and they've been around ever since, somehow eventually being captured as a group by the Milky Way.

Picture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41136133)

That was a beautiful picture but I would have definitely instagramed it.

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