The eye-catching posters depict some of the universe’s most mysterious astronomical phenomena with artistic flair.
Halloween just around the corner, NASA has released its latest Galaxy of Horrors posters. Presented
in the style of vintage horror movie advertisements, the new posters feature a dead
galaxy, an explosive gamma
ray burst caused by colliding stellar corpses, and ever-elusive
and creative as all three posters are, they’re based on real phenomena. In a
dead galaxy, new star birth has ceased and most remaining stars are the
long-lived variety, which are small and red, giving the galaxy a crimson glow. Likewise, when dead stars collide, they sometimes create a gamma
ray burst, one of the most energetic explosions in the universe. And while dark
matter may sound like it’s right out of a Halloween tale, its gravity keeps
stars inside galaxies and holds groups of galaxies together in clusters – yet scientists
don’t know what this invisible stuff is made of.
to download, the posters were produced by NASA’s Exoplanet Exploration Program
Office, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, with
the input of astrophysicists. They’re also available in Spanish: Cementerio
Oscura, and Demonions
de Rayos Gamma.
of the things I really like about these posters is that if you spend some time
studying the art and then maybe go learn a little more about each of these
topics, you’ll see there was a lot of thought by the artists about the choices
they made to highlight the science,” said Jason Rhodes, an astrophysicist
at JPL who consulted on the project.
that dark matter poster, which carries the tagline “Something Else Is Out
There.” The massive spider seen crawling across the sky on a glowing web
is pure fiction, but the concept alludes to something called the cosmic web, which
is the large-scale organization of matter and dark matter in the universe: Thin
filaments of normal matter and dark matter connect clusters of galaxies, like
roadways between major cities. In fact, scientific visualizations of
the cosmic web look similar to the spider web featured in the
the two narrow energy beams seen in the gamma ray burst poster reflect how they
occur in real life, traveling in opposite directions from the colliding stellar
corpses. The bursts are so intense that if such an event occurred
“close” to the Earth, causing a beam to fire directly at our planet,
the radiation and particles could do harm.
the rarity of these events makes that extremely unlikely, according Judy
Racusin, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center who also
consulted on the posters. In fact, astronomers estimate that a gamma ray burst
goes off in our galaxy only about once every 10,000 years, but they are visible
to us only about every 10,000,000 to 100,000,000 years. Even then, one of these
events wouldn’t necessarily pose a threat to our planet.
gamma ray bursts are real, the space travelers observing the event in the
Galaxy of Horrors image are, of course, the product of creative license. “The
poster art is a really fun way to imagine one of these happening,” said
Racusin. “But I wouldn’t want to be those space travelers!”
learn more about these posters and download both the Spanish and English versions
for free, visit the Galaxy of Horrors webpage:
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory