Unlike humans, I bet stars have no fear of death. They can live for trillions of years, watching over shifting universes like salt in soup — they’re constants in a bottomless pot. When they become spiritless gobs of gas, blistering red giants, or rippling supernovae, it feels like a dignified end to a life in space.
Most recently, NASA honored stars’ honorable demise with a new image of Cassiopeia A, a supernova remnant in the Cassiopeia constellation. You can learn more about it in today’s newsletter, which also contains stories about space junk, aliens, and a weekend recommendation.
But before you unwind, don’t forget to hit ‘reply’ to this email and share a memory, photo, or just the name of your favorite constellation. We’ll feature some responses in Tuesday’s issue. We’re taking Monday off — happy holidays!
When stars die, they leave a bursting bulb of gas and dust behind them. But space encapsulates star explosions like snow globes, and sometimes, Earth observatories espy them from afar.
Most recently, a new NASA observatory recaptured the star remnant.
“The new image is the first to come from NASA’s Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), which launched on December 9, 2021, with a mission to study the most mysterious, extreme objects of the universe, including the ruins of stars,” writes Inverse space writer Passant Rabie.
“When a star dies, it forms a supernova, an explosive burst of leftover debris from the star itself,” writes Rabie. “The cataclysm essentially shapes the interstellar medium, or the matter found in the space between different star systems in any given galaxy.”
In its image of Cassiopeia A, a gigantic supernova ruin, IXPE shows researchers exactly how it can help unravel the secrets of deep space.
Watch out for that star: SpaceX’s Starlink hasn’t solved its biggest problem
As you read this, a man-made husk is hurtling toward the Moon. The husk, an abandoned rocket booster, possibly from China, is predicted to smack into the Moon’s surface on March 4. But the Moon has been working out recently and it’s going to be just fine. It’s also used to being pelted with Earth garbage every now and then.
“Dozens of spacecraft and rocket pieces are currently collecting dust on the lunar surface after impact,” writes card story editor Jennifer Walter. “But remnants of research vessels are far from the strangest objects we’ve left on Earth’s closest satellite.”
NASA’s Apollo missions left behind 800 items, but Walter writes that once the program ended, “that didn’t stop us from making a landfill out of the Moon.”
In the rest of the card story, Walter counts down the 10 strangest items forsaken on our poor celestial pal. Some highlights include golf balls and a javelin used during Apollo 14’s Lunar Olympics, 96 bags of human poop, and a Bible.
The dwarf planet Ceres may have a briny, fish tank interior, says new research in The Planetary Science Journal. Science writer Kiona Smith reports that “a team of planetary scientists suggest that shortly after Ceres formed, internal heat caused rocks in its mantle to release water, salts, and other compounds.”
“Those changes left holes, or pores, in the surrounding rock, which filled with the newly-released fluid,” Smith continues.
“If they’re right, the briny mixture may have reshaped Ceres’ surface,” and it may have provided it with the building blocks of life.
“By now, the process of producing new metamorphic fluids on Ceres is geologically ancient history, since the dwarf planet has been slowly cooling for the last 2 million years,” writes Smith. “Any fluids that were going to well up to the surface, through the cracks and fissures that spiderweb through the planet’s crust, will have long since finished their journey.” But Ceres isn’t free of mystery yet — scientists believe it still might contain habitable, briny pockets within it.
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Weekend sendoff: The smartest sci-fi movie on Netflix
“Science fiction has an imagination problem,” writes film critic Allyson Johnson, “at least when it comes to women.”
Jennifer Phang’s 2015 release Advantageous boldly recognizes that the future probably won’t become a utopia, but a place that continues to “weaponize women’s self-images for capitalistic gains.”
“Set in the not-too-distant future, Gwen (Jacqueline Kim) is a single mother who has just lost her job selling cosmetic procedures for the Center for Advanced Health and Living,” writes Johnson. “Determined to provide her daughter, Jules (Samantha Kim), with a better life, Gwen [...] decides to return to her old workplace to be a guinea pig for a new experiment that would transfer her consciousness into a younger body.”
The movie’s end result is “an unnerving and eerie future that isn’t too far removed from what we know now,” writes Johnson.
Stranger than fiction: Can we block the sun to fight climate change?
Every Friday, Inverse Daily will recommend one “science and chill” moment for you to dive in. This week, we send you off with a science fiction movie to pass the long weekend. Stay tuned for next week’s recommendation.
About this newsletter: Do you think it can be improved? Have a story idea? Want to share a story about the time you met an astronaut? Send those thoughts and more to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- On this day in history: Today is the one-year anniversary of NASA’s Perseverance Rover reaching Mars! On February 18, 2021, Perseverance finally came to a rest on the Red Planet after seven months of travel.
- Song of the day: “I Turned into a Martian,” by The Misfits.