in the  vastness of space, fascinating discoveries can be made even when you’re not even looking for them. this is the case for a team of European astronomers who uncovered a new type of pulsating star whilst scouring the skies for planets beyond our solar system

the star, named J0247-25B, is the rarely observed remnant of a stellar collision caused by an expanding red giant smashing into its binary companion star, shearing away up to 90% of the red giant’s mass and leaving behind a hydrogen burning core. using the ULTRACAM high-speed camera the team, led by Dr Pierre Maxted of Keele University, were able to take up to 500 pictures a second to study eclipses of the surviving star in detail, discovering a pulsating, fluctuating luminosity caused by sound waves bouncing around inside the star

in this sound clip you can hear the eerie, quivering pulsations, which reach into the centre of the of the surviving star, pitch shifted up a whole 19 octaves in order to make them audible to the human ear. the moog-esque ‘dial tone’ is caused by interruption during eclipse, whilst the background rumble is produced by the larger SX-Phe type star

writing in the jounal Nature last month, Maxted hopes further observations of this study will go on to reveal insights into stellar collapse and the creation of white dwarfs: “we have been able to find out a lot about these stars, such as how much they weigh, because they are in a binary system. this will really help us to interpret the pulsation signal and so figure out how these stars survived the collision and what will become of them over the next few billion years”

mars / nudes

we don’t often show nipples on super/collider, but it’s not often that an internationally-renowned artist simultaneously exhibits two shows based on photographs of porn stars and the surface of Mars read more


when seen side by side with, say, the planet Venus, our sun looks pretty huge – but lurking out beyond our solar system are millions upon millions of much bigger stars read more


a rare meteorite sample that could help unravel the mysteries of Mars has been acquired by the Natural History Museum in London. the space rock is about the size of a paperback book and is the largest known fragment of the Tissint meteorite, which fell as a shower of stones in the deserts of southern Morocco last July. eyewitnesses heard two sonic booms and saw a bright fireball trace through the night sky

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death from above

to mark the first month of the Mayan year of doom, super/collider will be publishing stories about and predictions for 2012 throughout January. we start with a look at one man’s efforts to save the world from cataclysm via a DIY asteroid observatory in rural Wales, originally published in Dazed & Confused

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The Moon at Luminous Books

Friday 25 November

East London’s loveliest and tiniest bookshop takes its name from the luminous orb in our sky, and celebrates the moon each year with a night of literary-leaning lunar worship. this year’s soirée will see readings by James Atlee (author of Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight) and Steve Moore (comic book guy and author of Somnium), alongside up close films and images of the lunar surface supplied by us

The Moon at Luminous Books / 6-9pm / free / 3.5 Frederick Terrace, London E8 4EW


guest post: a new physics?

with all the recent talk about faster-than-light particles, we thought it timely to bring you selected excerpts from physicist Ben Still’s Neutrino Blog looking at how such speeds might be possible, what that means for physics and how we might have seen this all once before read more


plenty of cosmic happenings next week, starting with Nelly Ben Hayoun and Nahum Mantra’s ongoing Kosmica series at The Arts Catalyst with guests like Dr Jill Stuart, Alicia Framis and Jem Finer – artist in residence in the astrophysics department at Oxford University. next up, Science Fair™ drops by The Amwell Street Knocking Shop for a night of vintage shopping, astronomy, film and badge-making. and finally, if you’re up super early (or out super late) look out for a clutch of planets in the morning sky




opening today at Saville Row’s Hauser & Wirth gallery, Matthew Day Jackson’s new show features coloured skulls, re-covered LIFE magazines, a repurposed B-29 and this work: a long, panelled landscape based on a Mercator map that replicates the moon’s surface through laser etching on drywall



with NASA’s space shuttle program drawing to a close in the coming months, next week’s Science Fair™ night will be marking the end of an era with a special send off party – fitting, as the second-last space shuttle mission is now scheduled for Monday. we’ll be joined by space expert and author Piers Bizony and photographer David Ryle to discuss the wider cultural impact of the end of the dream before rounding off the night with a screening of the Motherboard documentary Space Shuttle Parking Lot



if NASA’s penultimate shuttle launch goes ahead tomorrow – and the skies clear – the orbiter Endeavour will put on a final farewell show over the UK just after lifoff. two minutes after rocketing skywards from Kennedy Space Center, the shuttle will shed its two solid rocket boosters and head up over the Atlantic. five minutes later, its bright orange external tank will separate too – gliding along with the shuttle towards Europe. if you look up fifteen to twenty minutes after launch (which you can watch online) you should be able to spot them flying alongside each other like two little stars


we thought we’d mark Earth Day tomorrow with a familiar but slightly different view of the planet we call home: not the famous Earthrise image taken from Apollo 8, but one snapped during the unmanned Russian Zond-7 mission on August 9, 1969. a two-person spaceship designed to circle around the moon but not land, the Soyuz 7K-L1 also photographed ‘earthrise’ – whose contrast between the dead moon and living earth became an emblem of the early environmental movement – during other missions around the moon and back


fifty years ago tomorrow Major Yuri Gagarin became the first human to leave the earth below and fly into space, orbiting the planet once in his Vostok-1 capsule for 108 minutes before parachuting down in the Saratov region of Russia to be greeted by confused locals. the launch of Chris Riley’s First Orbit promises to be among the highlights of the anniversary, which reminds us that although our progress into space sometimes seems to move at a glacial pace, it’s only been fifty short years since the voyage began

into the void

in September 1977, the Voyager 1 space probe blasted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, bound for the outer planets and beyond. having passed Jupiter, Saturn and even Pluto, it is now sailing for truly deep space: the empty void between star systems. recent data from the probe – which now takes 16 hours to reach us – indicates that Voyager has passed into a zone where the solar wind is blowing sideways, and may soon cease altogether as the lonely spacecraft plunges beyond the influence of our sun


_artwork: NASA


it looks uncannily like an old Apollo mission returning to earth – right down to the red and white parachutes – but this is private space firm SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which completed its first big test this week: reaching low earth orbit before successfully splashing down in the Pacific. if further flights go well, the spacecraft could soon be ferrying cargo and astronauts to the International Space Station, freeing NASA up to concentrate on new missions to the asteroids and beyond. cue The Blue Danube Waltz


_the Dragon’s first drop test, from a helicopter, in August 2010. image: Chris Thompson/SpaceX


another week, another crater. but unlike the volcanic one in last week’s post, Meteor Crater in Arizona was formed when a 50m nickel-iron meteorite careened into it at up to 20km per second. if you missed Science Fair™ on Monday, there’s another chance to hear about such impacts from Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, as part of the Royal Albert Hall’s Close Encounters series, which also includes screenings of Alien and Barbarella, plus plenty of crater-making fun for the little ones


once every hundred years, there is a day you can write out as 10/10/10. in the 21st century, that day falls this Sunday, and to mark the occasion Eames Office will be celebrating Charles and Ray Eames’s classic Powers of Ten with screenings, events and the launch of a new website and educational initiative. originally released in 1977, the short film (below) puts things in perspective by zooming out from a picnicking couple in Chicago to the outer fringes of the known universe…


strange goings on in the atmosphere high above Jupiter of late, with ghostly flashes and disappearing clouds spotted by amateur astronomers in recent weeks. it all began in June, when a small bright spot appeared briefly in the clouds. another followed in August, which professional and amateur astronomers have now identified as comets or meteors hitting the gas giant – the first such impacts ever observed. meanwhile, one of the famous planet-wide storm belts that ring the planet has suddenly faded, leaving Jupiter looking markedly different. when – and whether – it reappears remains a mystery


_images by amateur astronomers Anthony Wesley (left) and Masayuki Tachikawa (right)


to kick a season of exploring the archives, we’re pleased to bring you the complete text of Piers from Cocadisco‘s talk at The Book Club last October – a brief history of cosmic disco. you can check it out over on super/reader, where we’ll be posting more goodies in the coming weeks


_cosmic scene


at the end of each week, we try to pick one stand out science-related image for super/weekly. the idea is to keep the wordcount down and let the picture tell the story, making it quick and easy to check out. but sometimes there’s more to say – not to mention the stuff we write for other people, plus random thoughts and ideas, and all the images that don’t quite fit…

so to bring you more hot science action, we’ve created super/reader: a new hub for everything we do. over the coming weeks we’ll be posting loads from the archives, ranging from Chris’ visit to CERN to Rod’s interview with James Lovelock and Vivienne Westwood, plus new articles (like this one about spaceports) live updates and stuff we’ve found for AnOther Magazine’s Loves website. we hope you enjoy…


_Esrange Space Center, Sweden © SSC