Daily Archives: December 21, 2011

Galactic Views (17)


Hubble Serves Up a Holiday Snow Angel
NASA – The bipolar star-forming region, called Sharpless 2-106, looks like a soaring, celestial snow angel. The outstretched “wings” of the nebula record the contrasting imprint of heat and motion against the backdrop of a colder medium. Twin lobes of super-hot gas, glowing blue in this image, stretch outward from the central star. This hot gas creates the “wings” of our angel. A ring of dust and gas orbiting the star acts like a belt, cinching the expanding nebula into an “hourglass” shape. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A Galaxy Cluster Gets Sloshed
Like wine in a glass, vast clouds of hot gas are sloshing back and forth in Abell 2052, a galaxy cluster located about 480 million light years from Earth. X-ray data (blue) from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows the hot gas in this dynamic system, and optical data (gold) from the Very Large Telescope shows the galaxies. The hot, X-ray bright gas has an average temperature of about 30 million degrees.

A huge spiral structure in the hot gas — spanning almost a million light years — is seen around the outside of the image, surrounding a giant elliptical galaxy at the center. This spiral was created when a small cluster of galaxies smashed into a larger one that surrounds the central elliptical galaxy.

The smaller cluster passed the cluster core, the direction of motion of the cluster gas reversed and it traveled back towards the cluster center. The cluster gas moved through the center again and “sloshed” back and forth, similar to wine sloshing in a glass that was jerked sideways. The sloshing gas ended up in a spiral pattern because the collision between the two clusters was off-center.

The Chandra data show clear bubbles evacuated by material blasted away from the black hole, which are surrounded by dense, bright, cool rims. As with the sloshing, this activity helps prevent cooling of the gas in the cluster’s core, setting limits on the growth of the giant elliptical galaxy and its supermassive black hole. Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/BU/L.Blanton; Optical: ESO/VLT


Romney sees choice between ‘entitlement society’ and ‘opportunity society’


By Philip Rucker – Mitt Romney framed the 2012 presidential election in a speech here Tuesday night as a choice between an “entitlement society” dependent on government welfare and an “opportunity society” that enables businesses to flourish.

“Even if we could afford the ever-expanding payments of an entitlement society, it is a fundamental corruption of the American spirit,” Romney said. “The battle we face today is more than a fight over our budget. It is a battle for America’s soul.” more> http://is.gd/9wNAqh

Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy

By John B. Taylor – Like the one-time rebate of 2001, the temporary tax cut of 2008, the cash-for-clunkers and stimulus payments of 2009, or similar policies tried back in the 1970s, these temporary policies consistently fail to stimulate sustainable recoveries. And as this history shows, extending the temporary reduction from two months to six months or even to 12 months would be at best a marginal improvement.

Demand for investment will increase if policy unpredictability is reduced. And consumption demand will increase if workers’ incomes increase on a more permanent basis, which requires a sustainable recovery with much lower unemployment, not the current short-termism of stimulus packages. more> http://is.gd/IaEF3u

EVs Seen Dumping Power to Grid, Spurring Renewable Energy

By Charles Murray – Some experts believe that electric cars need to come first, or at least in tandem with renewables. In a V2G world, they say, electric cars would dump their battery power back onto the grid, serving as an enabler for wind and solar energy.

Because renewable energy is an intermittent power source, it needs to be backed up a by a “load balancer,” such as coal or nuclear. Proponents of V2G see the electric car battery as the balancing element of the future when wind and sunlight aren’t available. more> http://is.gd/Q5fYCY

Could Dismantling the Submerged State Surrounding Student Debt Pay for Free Colleges?


Image by 401kcalculator.org @Flickr

By Mike Konczal/Rortybomb – This is an example of what Suzanne Mettler calls “the submerged state,” a pattern where the government has, as she says, “shunned the outright disbursing of benefits to individuals and families and favored instead less visible and more indirect incentives and subsidies, from tax breaks to payments for services to private companies. These submerged policies…obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market.” Instead of directly providing public options, we subsidize the purchasing of private goods, often using the tax code.

There are winners and losers in each case. When we subsidize through the tax code, people who are well off and pay more taxes benefit more. more> http://is.gd/lZv4Dn


CONGRESS WATCH Rep. Ryan: Prospects for Progress if We Stay the Course, Rep. Paul Ryan, theJournalTimes.com/US Congress


CONGRESS WATCH Congresswoman Kaptur’s Floor Speeches, US Congress Kaptur TV, YouTube [VIDEO]