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14 Times Space Was Trippier Than LSD

You can spend hours just staring at this stuff...

Posted on February 4, 2016, at 6:22 p.m. ET

1. This dusty gas cloud just pounding out new stars like it's no thing:

NASA / G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz3D Team, STScI) / Via

This cosmic flight through the Carina Nebula shows dense clouds of gas and dust are like nurseries for new stars!

2. This legit terrifying simulation of a supermassive black hole with no qualms about guzzling up a helpless star:

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab / Via

Look at tidal forces just rip apart that star! This artist's impression is based on data from a real event that scientists observed in a galaxy about 290 million light years away.

3. This incoming swarm of electrons and ions just charging toward Earth like there are no helpless creatures there:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio / Via

This mind-fuck of a simulation shows particles ejected by the sun during a massive explosion called a coronal mass ejection. The particles, electrons and ions, are powerful enough to distort the shape of Earth's magnetic field and sometimes mess around with our electronics. You can see them as they are deflected by Earth's magnetic field at the end of the clip.

4. This hallucinatory trip toward the Horsehead Nebula:

NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, T. Davis, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz 3D Team, STScI) / Via

This dense gaseous cloud wouldn't be much to see in visible light, but in infrared light it turns into a glowing, far-out masterpiece. The red colors are the warmer regions.


5. This Big fucking Bang:

NASA / Via

Doesn't get much wilder than the formation of our universe. Scientists now think that stars first formed about 420 million years after the Big Bang with galaxies coming along a bit later.

6. This view of a super-pleasant looking planet with a classic trick ending:

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab / Via

It was Mars all along! Billions of years ago, Mars had flowing liquid water and a thick atmosphere. Now it has a thin atmosphere and no flowing surface water. This video shows a flyover of the actual surface of the planet with changing climate conditions added.

7. This collection of galaxies that makes your brain hurt if you really think about how much shit is shown in it:

NASA/University of Chicago and Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum / Via

This is a 3D view of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a map of about a million galaxies and quasars. This is what supercomputers were made for.

8. This collection of galaxies that might as well double as a diagram of neurons firing in your already tripped-out brain:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and the Advanced Visualization Laboratoy at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications / Via

The sinewy visualization shows galaxies colliding and forming the filaments of the large-scale universe.


9. This harrowing bad trip through the Moon's violent early history:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center / Via

The Moon's early history was pretty dramatic, with a ton of impact craters forming early in its existence.

10. This creepy flight to a neutron star that might as well just be the eye of the devil:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab / Via

In this visualization, a neutron star (a super dense, super compact star that sometimes forms after supernovas) is surrounded by a cloud of dust and gas called a protoplanetary nebula.

11. This simple but hypnotic view of all the Moon's phases:

NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio / Via

This is a bit of an idealization, the real cycle is a bit more complex due to orbit shapes an angles of roation. Sweet craters, though.

12. This cool-as-fuck and 100% heavenly nebula:

NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon, T. Borders, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz 3D team, STScI) / Via

Looks kinda angel-y, some say. The "wings" of this nebula are bubbles of hot gas and radiation coming from a massive, hot, newborn star in the center.

13. These planets just waiting to graduate from cloud-of-dust school:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications / Via

This is what it looks like after as a star is born but before the remaining material around it has collected into planet and asteroids and comets.

14. And, of course, this goddamn cosmic roller coaster ride through the Gum 29 Nebula:

NASA, ESA, G. Bacon, L. Frattare, Z. Levay, and F. Summers (Viz3D Team, STScI), and J. Anderson (STScI) / Via

The brighter clouds of Gum 29 are illuminated by the intense radiation of the newly formed stars above.