A Space Mystery Tied Up in a Bow

In 1670 an astronomer discovered a strange-shaped cloud in the sky. Upon further study over the next centuries, astronomers came around to the idea that CK Vulpeculae is the result of two stars colliding, although what types of stars crashed, they can’t say.

This massive cluster of galaxies, captured by the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton space observatory, emits hot gases that glow purple in x-ray light. The galaxy cluster, called XLSSC006, contains hundreds of galaxies and dark matter, so much so that everything in it adds up to around 500 trillion solar masses. And this snapshot is of a bygone time; the image shows what XLSSC006 looked like when the 14 billion-year-old universe was but 9 billion years old.

Globular cluster NGC 1898 resides near the center of a dwarf galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. It is of great interest to astronomers studying star formation because it is so close—a mere 163,000 light years away. Clusters like these—dense grouping of stars bound by gravity—date back to the early days of the universe, and they contain several hundred thousand, and sometimes millions, of stars.

While all terrestrial eyes were on Hurricane Michael, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station captured the storm from above on October 10, before Michael made landfall in Florida. The eye itself is calm enough that you can see down to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, while the winds swirling around the center peaked at 155 miles per hour.

Every week, we look forward to gazing at new darkish, square-shaped images filled with striated light, shiny streams of gas, and a colorful assortment of galaxies. This image is more subdued. This skyward shot is from the European Space Agency’s Digitized Sky Survey 2, which is mapping the heavens using the European Southern Observatory. It’s remarkable for the amount of space it shows, that abundance of emptiness between all the astral bodies.

You are not seeing things, there aren’t a dozen space stations, just one. And in this composite photo, the International Space Station, the size of an NFL football field, appears almost like a gnat crawling across the face of the Sun. Many astrophotographers are skilled at capturing the ISS as it transits objects like the Sun and moon, and it’s something that takes great planning—they have to follow an object that is orbiting Earth at 18,000 miles an hour. That’s 5 miles per second!

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This Week in the Future of Cars: Happy Birthday to Us

It’s been a busy week, and not only because car and tech companies were up to their usual tricks. It’s WIRED’s 25th birthday, which means we’ve been covering the future of transportation for a quarter of a frickin’ century. Translation for the car nerds: WIRED can now rent a car without extra fees or penalties. Very exciting stuff. So today, we’ll be reviewing the news. But we’ll also take a look back at WIRED’s past coverage. The olds, if you will. What calls did we get right, and which did we muck up profoundly? It’s been a week, not to mention two and a half decades: Let’s get you caught up.


  • Maybe you’ve heard: Everyone is fighting over the curb. Cities, Uber, Lyft, cyclists, parkers, transit agencies, car-sharing companies, now scooters. Uber thinks it might have part of a solution: A formula that measures the productivity of the curb, so cities can choose the most efficient ways to use them. For officials, now comes the difficult part: Parsing their values, so they can decide who gets what piece of curb estate.

  • Meet the Kinergy AS EV, Hankook’s crack at an electric-vehicle-specific tire. Why is this rubber doughnut different from the others? EVs are heavier and often hardier than their ICE cousins—so for one thing, it’s the vegetable oil resin, which the company says improves the tires’ wet-road handling and braking.

  • Yes, self-driving cars promise to help eliminate road crashes and make it easier to get some shut-eye on the way to work. But as WIRED contributor Nick Stockton finds, they might also make us lazy, obese, diabetes- and heart disease-ridden, and generally unhealthy.

  • When a horrible hurricane like Michael comes around, it’s good to have a plan. That goes double for counties, which should be preparing to transport residents (and their pets) to safe locations throughout the year. But as just-published research discovered, the counties hit by Michael were actually some of the least prepared to evacuate in Florida.

In the Rearview: WIRED @ 25 Edition

Essential stories from WIRED’s past

1994: Meet the aftermarket car hackers.

1996: In which WIRED predicts that we’re six years from a smart highway prototype. Whoops.

1997: How close are cars that can go 5,000 miles between fill-ups?

2001: The guy who built a monorail in his Fremont, California, backyard.

2005: “While most storm chasers are happy to park a mile away and shoot video, that’s not nearly enough for Green. His dream is to drive his car straight in, hit the brakes, and park dead in the middle of a raging twister.”

2006: A buzzy handheld gaming control fails spectacularly. Then its director crashes a rare Ferrari Enzo on a California highway. And then the trouble begins.

2006: A Stanford engineer named Sebastian Thrun attempts to build a car that can drive itself for a company called Google.

2007: Alex Roy had a crazy dream: to cross the American continent on wheels in less than 32 hours and 7 minutes.

2008: Meet Shai Agassi, the Israeli entrepreneur whose evangelical zeal for electric vehicles caught the fancies of private companies and governments the world over. His company, Better Place, went bankrupt in 2013.

2011: Out in the Mojave Desert, a man races the wind

2013: How building a secret compartment in a Ford F-150 landed Alfred Anaya in prison.

2014: “Bran Ferren started to envision a vehicle that could take Kira nearly anywhere on earth without limitation—a mix of high-powered machinery, bomb-shelter self-sufficiency, and luxe-life accoutrements. It would be a mobile, malleable five-star fortress.” (Kira is 4 years old.) https://youtu.be/arzWhLMAiGw

2016: WIRED’s Transportation section officially launches with a February cover story: “How GM Beat Tesla to the First True Mass-Market Electric Car”

2017: From the oral history of the Darpa Grand Challenge, the grueling robot race that launched the self-driving car: “Another little car went up a berm and flipped over. Another had a GPS problem—it tried to go through a barbed-wire fence and got tangled up.”

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REI End of Season Sale (Fall 2018): Patagonia, CycleOps, Rumpl, Suunto, Dakine

At this time of the week, we usually like to scour the web for great prices on our favorite headphones or gaming consoles. But this is a special occasion: REI’s End of Season sale started yesterday, and will continue through Monday, October 15. This is your best chance to snag the outdoor gear you’ve been coveting all summer for unbelievable prices. We combed through thousands of deals to bring you some of our favorite picks.

Rumpl’s soft, eye-catching blankets are made out of technical ripstop nylon with a DWR finish. It will shed dirt and dog hair, repel moisture, and keep you warm on your next fireside outing. Buy the Rumpl Puffy Blanket for $72 (was $129).

  • Dakine Cassette Stomp Pad for $4 (was $8). According to the reviews, it might not last that long. But it will look amazing on the day that you stick it on.

  • Darn Tough Crew Socks for $7 (was $20). You knew these would show up here. Everyone always needs more indestructible socks. Unless your socks are already all Darn Tough socks, in which case you might be set. REI’s entire selection of socks is worth browsing; there are plenty of men’s versions on sale too.

  • Brooks Juno Bra for $24 (was $65). This is one of the best-selling sports bras from Brooks’ sister company, Moving Comfort, which is best known for bras that, er, strap it all down.

  • Patagonia Black Hole Gear Tote for $27 (was $49). Patagonia’s tote in the Black Hole line serves as a tough, durable catch-all for everything from wet hiking boots, dirty gym clothes, or laundry. It stuffs down into its own pocket when not in use.

  • REI Co-op Midweight Base Layer for $29 (was $80). The end-of-season sale is a great time to stock up on a lot of essentials that would otherwise be extremely pricey, like merino wool base layers. REI’s in-house line offers a lot of value for the money, but if you prefer other brands, they also have a lot of Smartwool and Icebreaker on sale too.

  • Patagonia Baggies for $30 (was $55). Depending on where you live, you probably won’t need these for a while. But these are the some awesome outdoor shorts. They’re also made from recycled materials and come in a variety of fun prints.

  • Chacos Classic Z/1 Sandals for $45 (was $105). You won’t be able to use these for awhile either. But now is a good time to stock up, if you don’t currently have a pair of Colorado’s or Oregon’s official summer state shoe.

  • Nathan Speed 2L Hydration Vest for $31 (was $85). Are you running in the Los Angeles, Eugene, or, God help us, the Boston Marathon this spring? You’ve probably been looking for a hydration vest, which sits close to your body, has breathable mesh panels, and won’t bounce like a bladder backpack would.

  • Manduka Prolite Yoga Mat for $37 (was $82). Manduka’s high-density, closed-cell yoga mats are very popular, and usually very heavy. This one is light enough to tote to and from class.

  • Vuori Movement Hoodie for $44 (was $118). REI carries a lesser-known outdoor brands, like Bridge & Burn, United by Blue, and Topo Designs. Vuori’s soft, moisture-wicking hoodies have a cult following and very rarely (if ever?) go on sale.

  • Ruffwear Cloud Chaser Jacket for $48 (was $80). Ruffwear’s doggy jacket is waterproof, windproof, and even has reflective trim. If you’re going to be decked out to protect yourself from the elements, maybe your pup should be too.

  • Patagonia Nano-Air Jacket for $74 (was $199). All of Patagonia’s vaunted midweight jackets (Nano Air, Nano Puff, Micro Puff?) will quickly become the layer that you never take off.

  • REI Co-op Camp Bundle for $134 (was $239). Have you put off camping because all the gear seemed incomprehensibly expensive? This is an amazing value for a three-season tent, air-foam sleeping pad, and 30-degree sleeping bag. Now all you need is a cookstove, a headlamp, a backpack…

  • Suunto Ambit3 Vertical GPS Watch for $246 (was $469). Suunto’s GPS watches are good-looking, lightweight, and offer incredible capabilities for the price. The Ambit3 Vertical tracks vertical gain (no doy!) for ultrarunners, trail runners, and hikers.

  • Lib Tech Attack Banana 2017/2018 for $310 (was $589). If you’re an all-mountain rider who is more likely to carve around in powder or pop into the park, rather than bomb down as fast as possible, Lib Tech’s poppy Banana boards are a great choice.

  • Coalition Snow Bliss Skis for $359 (was $599). Do you need another reason to get excited about ski season starting up? Coalition Snow is just one of many great snow brands that are on sale right now.

  • CycleOps Magnus Bike Trainer for $412 (was $600). ‘Tis the season, for bringing your bike indoors and pedaling while watching The Great British Baking Show, instead of biking outside.

  • Surftech Universal 10’6” Stand Up Paddleboard for $668 (was $1049). ‘Tis also the season for buying paddleboards on clearance and fantasizing about going out on lakes and rivers again.

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