20 June 2008

Mystery Blob

What is this strange, fuzzy little thing? Plankton? A white blood cell? A jellyfish? A virus? Inscrutable Peter Saville album art? Paramecium poop? It looks kind of mossy, doesn't it? And it's surrounded by a thin, blue sheath that suggests a cell wall or the thin skin of a tiny aquatic animal.

All totally wrong, of course. It's a great big thing floating in space: The Tycho Supernova remnant, to be precise. We were only off by a few dozen orders of magnitude. How slick is it that it looks so much like something we'd see in a biology textbook or under a microscope?

It's a false color X-ray image, which perhaps explains it's unusually textured, 3-D appearance, as if you could reach out and poke it.

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