The Cat's Eye Nebula: Dying Star Creates Fantasy-like Sculpture of Gas and Dust  
NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
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Dark Energy, Dark Matter, Dark Jelly Beans?

After spending a few hours in the AAS Poster/Exhibitor Hall, you can get that glazed-over, zombie feeling that comes when you’re overwhelmed by the sheer intensity of the sights and sounds around you. At that point, it takes something really unusual to get your attention. This picture did it for me–the cover of a beautiful brochure from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory . I mean, who can resist jelly beans? And these are not only delicious, but scientific! As you may have noticed, there are more than a few black jelly beans in this jar. Well, this jar of jelly beans represents our universe–about 96% is dark (about 70% dark energy, about 26% dark matter), and about 4% is the more delicious familiar stuff…stars, planets, animals, plants, etc. Chandra is helping us learn more about the darker parts of our universe, including the darker parts of things like black holes, supernovae, and galaxies. Now, who can look at a jar of jelly beans without guessing how many are in the jar? (Hint: It’s a 1-liter container.)
Image Credit: Fermilab



International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA)