Thursday, February 4, 2010

Randomness is not random.

This is a very dramatic image of the aftermath of a collision between two asteroids, hitting each other with the force of a very large nuclear explosion. It's a false-color image, so it doesn't look quite that dramatic in real life. But it still looks pretty cool. The "tail" is debris from the collision streaming off the main body, blown away by the solar wind like a comet tail (it doesn't glow like a comet tail because it's not made of ice).

The two asteroids are likely part of the same "family" of asteroids, and it might be the same family (Flora) that spawned the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.

Families of asteroids are asteroids that are post-collision remnants of a breakup of a much larger parent asteroid.  They all share similar orbital characteristics, meaning their orbits are at similar speeds, similar shapes, and the same distance from the sun.  They also spin at roughly the same rate.  I am thrilled by the idea that asteroids don't move randomly, but instead are part of families that all move in similar ways.  Picture a scattered group of asteroids, all moving at the same pace, same direction, spinning in unison.  Pretty, eh?  The energy moving through a system organizes that system.  Randomness is not random. 

The picture is from Hubble.

Got a Post of the Week award (my second!) from Hilary.  Thanks Hilary!  Go visit her.  She's a wonderful photographer.

Lastly, the site is redesigned.  I got bored.  I'm still futzing with it; suggestions are welcome.


Hilary said...

Very cool.. and nice face lift. :)

And thanks for the kind words and linkage.

slommler said...

Wow!! That is awesome!!

ArtSparker said...

Don't get me wrong, I like the blog, but honestly, red is kind of hard on the eyes. I'm a cranky middle-aged former graphic designer.

Maggie said...

I like the blog. The scary b movie banner screaming at me is awesome. It's definitely you. and fun.

I like the idea of random not being random too. There is poetry in there.

meno said...

Gamera? Gamera is that you?

Clowncar said...

Anytime, Hil. Thanks for thowing alll those folks my way.

Thanks for the hug, Sue Ann. And for stopping by, of course.

Art, you're a cranky middle-aged former graphic designer, I'm colorblind, and thus blissfully unaware of what that bright red can do to your rods and cones. I switched back to black, just for you.

Thanks Maggie. The woman on the right is from The Brian Eaters. The three headed guy on the left is, of course, Ghidrah. AKA Monster X.

Yes, meno, it's me, Gamera. I'm really neat! I'm filled with turtle meat!