Shapes All Over The Place: Bubbles

Maybe it's the large number of the pre-school people that we spend time with these days, but we see shapes all over the place. Hoping to go beyond the snack-and-nap crowd, we like to look for similar shapes in very unexpected places.

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A demonstration of visuals for bubbles (soap bubble, bubble nebula, galaxy cluster bubbles) across different scales.

Take this trio below. All three are bubbles, of course. On the far left, is a familiar soap bubble that you might find in a kitchen sink or at the end of bubble wand. Next to that is the so-called Bubble Nebula (aka, NGC 7635). This was created by the wind from a young hot star pushed out into a cooler gas cloud in which the star lived. Finally, the image on the right shows two bubbles (to the upper left and lower right) that have been carved out of hot gas in the galaxy cluster MS 0735.6+7421. These bubbles were created when jets of high-energy particles blasted out of a supermassive black hole (not visible in this image, but buried in the white area in the center).

So here we have it: three bubbles, but in very different places and on much different scales. Is it interesting to see the similarities? Is it just a coincidence that they all look the same, or is there some underlying physics that ties them all together? If you have any thoughts on the subject, we'd love to for you to let us know. We might even give you juice and a graham cracker if you do.

Megan Watzke, CXC

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