Arp 81: 100 million years later
From planet Earth, we see this strongly distorted pair of galaxies, cataloged as Arp 81, as they were only about 100 million years after their close encounter. The havoc wreaked by their mutual gravitational interaction during the encounter is detailed in this color composite image showing twisted streams of gas and dust, a chaos of massive star formation, and a tidal tail stretching for 200 thousand light-years or so as it sweeps behind the cosmic wreckage. Also known as NGC 6622 (left) and NGC 6621, the galaxies are roughly equal in size but are destined to merge into one large galaxy in the distant future, making repeated approaches until they finally coalesce. Located in the constellation Draco, the galaxies are 280 million light-years away. Even more distant background galaxies can be spotted in this sharp, reprocessed, image from Hubble Legacy Archive data.
Image credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, ESA, NASA; Processing - Martin Pugh
Tamara Karsavina (1885-1978) was a principal dancer with the Imperial Russian Ballet. After the revolution, she moved to Paris and became a principal dancer with Ballet Russes. Tamara is best known for originating the titular role in The Firebird.
In 1918, Tamara married a British diplomat and settled in England. In England she helped to found both the Royal Ballet and the Royal Academy of Dance. Her students included Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev.
The culture warriors have decided: Disney’s Frozen is queer. Elsa hiding her ice-powers could be read as a metaphor for the closet, the Oscar-winning “Let it Go” plays like a coming-out anthem, and a character in the film evokes the question of whether homosexuality is a choice by inquiring of Elsa’s powers, “born with it or cursed?” Some liberals have praised the film for its subtext; some conservatives have denounced it.
But the most remarkable thing about queer readings of the film may be how unremarkable they really are. Through both its corporate practices and the content of its films, Disney for decades has implemented the so-called “gay agenda”—which is to say, helping make the world a more accepting place.
To start in the most obvious place: As a business, Disney has long held a progressive attitude toward LGBT people. Gay pride events have been hosted at Disney World since 1991, and the company started offered its gay employees health insurance benefits for their partners since 1995, a decision that wasn’t entirely popular back then.
One of the most poignant examples of the company’s tolerant atmosphere is the case of lyricist Howard Ashman, who was openly gay and died of AIDS in 1991. Not only did Ashman write songs for The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, he was also closely involved in those films’ productions, casting actors and holding story meetings with animators. At the end of Beauty and the Beast, Disney acknowledged his contributions with this tribute: “To our friend Howard Ashman who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful.”
But Ashman’s story also offers an example of how the substance of Disney’s films reflect an interest in LGBT peoples’ struggles.
Read more. [Image: Disney]
Milky Way’s Structure Mapped in Unprecedented Detail
Astronomers are one step closer to solving a longstanding mystery — just what our Milky Way galaxy looks like.
It may seem odd that a comprehensive understanding of the Milky Way’s structure has so far eluded researchers. But it’s tough to get a broad view of the galaxy from within.
"We are fairly confident that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy, but we don’t know much in detail. At the most basic level, we’d like to be able to make a map that would show in detail what it looks like," said Mark Reid of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who led the new study.
Australian weaver ants building their nest by pulling on leaves and working in chains, in Northern Territory, Australia. The adult builders pull leaves together with their pincers then interweave them with silk threads produced by their larvae. They can build an entire nest in 24 hours. Photograph: Ingo Arndt