TIME space

Now You Can 3D-Print Your Own Stellar Nebula

A new study makes it possible for you to hold one of astronomy's great mysteries in your hands—and understand it better too

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People alive in 1841 understood the Eta Carinae nebula better than we do. They were the ones who were actually around to watch when an enormous star weighing about 130 times as much as our sun erupted more than 7,500 light years from Earth. Maybe if modern astronomers had been on the scene they could have figured out what caused the blast—and specifically why the vast cloud of dispersing matter that makes up the nebula assumed its signature peanut shape.

Still, the good thing about those modern astronomers is that when they put their minds to something, it’s never too late to get some answers. An international team of researchers has just announced that they have done just that, publishing a new study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society that may at last unravel the Eta Carinae mystery.

The investigators did their work with the help of the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), conducting elaborate cross-sectional observations of Eta Carinae. These allowed them not only to develop a solid theory about how the star blew, but to create a 3D-printed model of the two-lobed space cloud that came from it.

The model is not much to look at—two irregularly shaped balls of plastic that resemble extracted molars as much as anything else. Still, NASA has made the program necessary for printing your own version of Eta Carinae publicly available. Whether you think it’s display-worthy or not, the model tells a complex story.

The star at the center of the Eta Carinae nebula is actually two stars—a binary pair in perpetual orbit around each other. That had been known for a while, but how—or if—they worked together to shape the nebula was never clear. The international team now believes that the eruption occurred when the smaller star—which measures about 30 solar masses—was at the closest point in its orbit to the larger one. It does not appear that a collision triggered the explosion. That seems to have happened on its own, with the blast beginning at one of the poles of the 130-solar-mass star and propagating across its entire body to the other pole.

But the close approach of the smaller star does seem to have had a powerful influence on shaping the eruptive cloud that resulted—and that star had a lot of material to work with. The larger star, which still exists, is now thought to weigh in at just 90 solar masses; the missing material—about 40 times the mass of our sun—is what we see when we look at the huge cosmic peanut.

Why does any of this matter? Well, it doesn’t, if you take “matter” to mean influencing the well-being of the human species responsible for the finding. But if you mean making that species smarter, explaining to it how some of the universe’s most extraordinary and violently beautiful formations came to be, then it matters indeed—and quite a lot, in fact.

TIME movies

Behind the Scenes With Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in Edge of Tomorrow

Take a glimpse at the making of the film

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Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, features plenty of action and explosions to make for some exciting behind-the-scenes footage.

But it sounds like things didn’t always go smoothly—earlier this month, Blunt appeared as a guest on Conan and talked about the time she almost killed Cruise while driving a stunt car.

Take a look above at what happened on the set of the movie TIME called “a furiously time-looping joy ride and the smartest action film of the early summer season.”

TIME space

Watch: Breathtaking Time Lapse Video Shows Star Exploding

The eruption was so bright that for a while it was one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way

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Ever wonder what an exploding star looks like?

NASA has released this incredible time lapse video showing the enormous explosion of a red star called V838 Monocerotis, located some 20,000 light years away.

The breathtaking images were captured by NASA’s Hubble telescope over a four-year period.

What makes this starburst even more fascinating is that its origins remains a puzzle, as scientists still don’t fully understand why the explosion occurred. Initially, astronomers thought it was a nova – which is a relatively more common outburst – but more recently, they came to the realization that it was something quite different.

“The outburst may represent a transitory stage in a star’s evolution that is rarely seen,” says the Hubble website. “The star has some similarities to highly unstable aging stars called eruptive variables, which suddenly and unpredictably increase in brightness.”

 

 

TIME The Brief

Hundreds of Turkish Miners Trapped Underground

Welcome to #theBrief, the four stories to know about right now—from the editors of TIME

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Here are the stories TIME is watching this Wednesday, May 14:

  • 238 Turkish miners are dead and hundreds are still missing after an explosion at a power distribution unit.
  • Magic Johnson responds to Donald Sterling’s remarks, saying Sterling is “living in the Stone Age.”
  • John Conyers, the second longest-serving lawmaker in Congress, doesn’t make a primary ballot after failing to collect enough signatures.
  • Shoppers who footed the bill for Vibram’s toe-shoes could get up to $90 back after a lawsuit alleged the shoes didn’t provide health benefits as the company advertised.

The Brief is published daily on weekdays.

TIME Crime

House Explodes After Cop Killed At Scene of Domestic Dispute

Shots Fired Home
In this frame grab from television helicopter video, a home bursts into flames in Brentwood, N.H. AP/WCVB-TV 5

Steven Arkell, a 48-year-old father of two, was killed when responding to a domestic dispute that ended when an explosion almost tore the house in two. The alleged shooter is thought to have perished inside

A New Hampshire police officer was shot and killed Monday when responding to a domestic dispute at a suburban home that exploded soon after in a blast so great that the roof tore off the building. Authorities believe that the shooter set his duplex on fire and died either in the flames or the explosion.

Gov. Maggie Hassan ordered flags on state buildings to be flown at half staff in honor of deceased officer Steven Arkell, a 48-year-old father of two.

“Officer Arkell bravely answered the call of duty and made the ultimate sacrifice, a heroic demonstration of his commitment to the safety of his fellow citizens,” Hassan said. “Like so many of our first responders do on a daily basis, Officer Arkell courageously put his life on the line to protect others, and in doing so, was tragically taken far too soon.”

Michael Nolan, 47, is believed to be the culprit. Officials say that he used gunfire to drive other officers out of his home, which exploded at approximately 5:50pm EST. A third person was taken to the hospital, and neighbor Susan Hughes told the Porstmouth Press-Herald that she saw presumed shooter’s 86-year-old father Walter Nolan being taken away from the scene by an ambulance.

[WCVB TV]

TIME Nigeria

Nigeria Blast Kills at Least 19 in Abuja

An apparent car bomb blew up Thursday near the site of an April 14 bombing that killed at least 75 people and wounded 141. Rescuers are at the scene, and at least 19 people were killed in the explosion, according to a hospital worker

Updated 4:50 p.m. ET on May 2

An explosion killed at least 19 people in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja on Thursday, a hospital worker told the Associated Press.

The apparent car bomb blew up near the site of an April 14 bombing that killed at least 75 people and wounded 141, according to officials. The Boko Haram Islamic extremist network claimed responsibility for that bombing, and just hours later, militants kidnapped over 250 teenage girls at a school in the northeast. Fifty of the students escaped from their captors, but 200 of the girls are still missing. (Boko Haram means “Western education is sinful.”)

A checkpoint was set up at the location after the April 14 blast. According to witnesses, traffic had built up before the checkpoint before the bomb exploded on Thursday. Earlier in the day at a May Day rally, President Goodluck Jonathan said the perpetrators of the bombing and kidnapping would be brought to justice.

Civil Defense Corps spokesman Eman Ekah said rescuers are at the scene.

[AP]

 

MORE: Another Deadly Blast in Nigeria As Country’s Stability Erodes

TIME Television

Scandal Watch: A Child For A Child, The True Explosion In The Season Finale

Scandal ABC

Who lives, who dies.

Beware, spoilers ahead. Because… this is a recap.

Suffice it to say that for the past week Scandal producers have been building an exponential amount of hype, almost to eye rolling proportions, around how insane this season finale would be. “Watch tonight or hate yourself tomorrow,” warned teasers promising, “Twisty, crazy, OMG moments.”

Kerry Washington said that the cast was “floored” over and over again during the table read. Scott Foley promised the Hollywood Reporter a “divisive” final moment that would leave people “up in arms” and cause “Twitter [to] explode. Explode!” So did it live up to the hype?

The end of last week’s episode left audiences with the promise that a literal ticking time bomb was going to go off (with Cyrus’ blessing) during a high profile funeral that could kill Sally Langston, Leo, Andrew (Mellie’s love interest). But that was not the real explosion, so to speak. In the opening minutes Jake warned Fitz, cops were called, and the bomb exploded only after all the main characters were evacuated. Cyrus’ soul is saved. But since this occurred in the very beginning, the end had to be even more dynamic. So the episode was jam packed with twist after twist, reveal after reveal, and the final moment didn’t go out with a boom — like James’ murder — but was rather a culmination of the sociopathy and moral depravity we have come to expect from the cast of characters.

What was the moral depravity? The murder of a child. After the explosion, when Sally Langston is shown making on-site tourniquets, it becomes clear that Fitz isn’t going to win the election. “Dad, I’m sorry you’re going to lose,” says his son Jerry, which become his final words before stepping onstage during a campaign event. Mid-speech, Jerry starts seizing and bleeding through his mouth and nose onstage and in spite of doctor’s best efforts, he dies. We soon find out that he was purposely infected with meningitis. Immediately we are led to believe Mama Pope is the culprit — which, in all honesty, doesn’t make total sense because isn’t her goal to cause havoc and ruin the presidency? While this would emotionally scar Fitz, it would win him an election. So Fitz reinstates Papa Pope/Eli (whose stabbing at the end of the last episode didn’t prove fatal) as head of B613 to take control of the situation and towards the end of the episode we find out that, in fact, it was Eli who killed Jerry. Why? Well Olivia wanted Fitz to win presidency. Eli wanted to regain power. And as for poor Fitz? As Eli put it, incredibly chillingly, “He took my child, so I took his.”

Other key moments:

-When Fitz thinks he’s going to lose the election, he tells Liv that he’ll finally divorce Mellie, they can finally get married and move to Vermont to make jam. (If only the biggest scandal in season four could be a huckleberry shortage.) Unable to live in the reverie, Liv tells Fitz that Mellie was raped by Big Jerry. This led to a beautiful scene between Fitz and Mellie where he kisses the top of her head. Mellie tells him that Jerry is his son (“I don’t care,” says Fitz) and that “I fought him” (he holds her.)

-Huck and Quinn get caught having sex in the office. “Oh dear Lord my eyes,” Abby says. The voice of the people. They continue their affair, although Quinn shows Huck where his family, who was taken from him by B613, lives. Which will complicate things. Charlie gave Quinn the address, so I hope they don’t end up murdered.

-Mama Pope is back in a hole underground thanks to Papa Pope (who told everyone she’s actually dead).

-David has all the B613 files and Jake’s blessing to catch the bad guys

-Harrison might get murdered by Papa Pope, the newly instated head of B613.

And then there’s Olivia

-Olivia finally decided to take evil Papa Pope up on his offer of getting on a plane and leaving the country. When Abby (who needs more lines next season) demands to know why, Olivia gives one of the most gripping mini-monologues of the night: “I’m the thing that needs to be fixed. I’m the thing that needs to be handled. I’m the Scandal. And the thing to do with a Scandal is shut it down.” She flies off on a private plane with none other than… Jake.

So what say you? Great finale or was it overhyped?

TIME cities

Fertilizer Rules Unchanged One Year After Texas Explosion Killed 15

John Raimer stands in front of his trailer that he lives in as he leads at the West Long Term Recovery team in West, Texas, on April 1, 2014.
John Raimer stands in front of his trailer that he lives in as he leads at the West Long Term Recovery team in West, Texas, on April 1, 2014. Max Faulkner—Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT/SIPA USA

Chemical safety officials tasked by President Obama to determine whether regulations should change following last April's explosion in West, Texas, that killed 15 are mulling revisions to ammonium nitrate storage rules and the handling and processing of chemicals

National safety rules governing fertilizer remain unchanged after a fertilizer facility explosion killed 15 people in West, Texas one year ago.

The lack of action comes even after President Barack Obama ordered federal agencies to review chemical safety rules in the wake of the incident. Agency officials say they’re considering revising ammonium nitrate storage rules, as well as changing the chemical handling and processing rules. Any significant changes, they say, will likely take years.

Debate over the ideal safety changes to implement remains ongoing. The Institute of Makers of Explosives believes that storing chemicals in wooden buildings, for example, is an unsafe practice, while the Agricultural Retailers Association argues that switching away from wooden buildings would be too costly. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, meanwhile, has cautioned against adopting new rules before the state completes its investigation of the incident. Perry has not specified when those findings will be released.

Texas State Fire Marshal Chris Connealy told the Wall Street Journal that his office has identified 26 facilities in the state that store large amounts of fertilizer in conditions that could lead to an explosion similar to the one in West.

Of the 15 people killed in last year’s explosion, 12 were volunteer firefighters responding to the incident. Legislators suggested at a hearing Monday new rules that would force the volunteer fire department to better prepare first responders for chemical emergencies such as the one that struck West.

[WSJ]

TIME Lawsuit

Con Edison Sued Over New York City Explosion

New York City emergency responders search through the rubble at the site of a building explosion in the Harlem section of New York, March 13, 2014.
New York City emergency responders search through the rubble at the site of a building explosion in the Harlem section of New York, March 13, 2014. Brendan McDermid—Reuters

The first lawsuit has been filed over the deadly explosion that killed 8 people in upper Manhattan last week

A woman filed a lawsuit against Con Edison Monday for the injuries she suffered in her apartment more than a block away from last week’s East Harlem gas explosion, the NYPost reports.

Michelle Nelson, 46, also made an unspecified claim against one of the property owners in her filing with the Manhattan Supreme Court. A gas leak allegedly caused the explosion that destroyed two buildings in upper Manhattan, killing eight people and injuring dozens.

While Nelson was the first lawsuit filed in regards to the deadly blast, other claims are already in the works. In fact, 20-year-old high school student Jose Vargas filed paperwork to indicate he might sue the city for $10 million after the blast threw him off the seat of a passing bus, tearing ligaments and bursting blood vessels.

Con Ed spokesperson Bob McGee told the Post: “We’re working with the City, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross to assist the affected families with their expenses in the wake of the tragedy. We haven’t received the complaint but we’ll review it when it arrives.”

[New York Post]

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