Clear Thinking on Nebulous Issues

(from an article in Discover Magazine)

by Lorraine Schein

Carina Nebula, NGC 3372

Carina Nebula, NGC 3372

This fast wind, with speeds up to 3,000 miles per second
Slams into the slow wind with the force
Of a trillion one megaton H-bombs --
Some red giants lose an entire sun's worth of matter this way.

It is a tale of galactic fireworks,
Rivaled only by the apocalypse of supernovas:
The real planetary nebula zoo.

Most stars will be blown away by the winds of change --
And their gravestones will be the planetary nebulas.

Astronomers have learned to read in these glowing fossils
The history of the winds,
The history of the stars from which they came.

Copyright © 2004, Lorraine Schein

Lorraine Schein is a New York poet and writer whose poems have appeared recently in 2001: A Science Fiction Poetry Anthology, Starline, Strange Horizons, Space and Time, The Beltane Papers, and Full Unit Hookup. New work is forthcoming in The Magazine of Speculative Poetry and in the anthology Broken Mirrors. Her stories are included in the anthologies Wild Women and Angel Body and Other Magic for the Soul (Wordcraft of Oregon).

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Image courtesy of NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)