Sunday, January 20, 2013

Manatee Nebula: A wonder in the cosmos

Officially, it's called W50.  What's that, a lubricant?  Boring.  Fortunately, astronomers, like the rest of us, can be moved by the beauty, however coincidental, of a natural wonder. So here we have the Manatee Nebula. 18,000 light years from Earth, the remnants of a star that exploded 20,000 years ago have swirled into this picture - surrounding a black hole.  So why can we appreciate beauty, anyway? There's no evolutionary advantage to it?  Is it - dare I say it - a spiritual gift? 

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