02 November 2005

Astronomers discover first starlight; CNN can't figure out what happened.

CNN reporting at times stuns me, and it's usually not for good reasons. Here they messed up a good number of facts. They can't decide where the astronomers were, what they were looking at, or which telescope they used.

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (AP) -- Researchers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland believe they have captured traces of radiation from long-extinguished stars that were "born" during the universe's infancy.

(CNN, emphasis added)

Accompanying imageThe image that accompanies the story has no caption, but it's some random star cluster of young stars. These are always within our own galaxy, as otherwise they'd be too small to make out much detail. Local and young forming stars means it's something that's happening recently, not way back in the history of time.

The image also has tiny font in the corner saying it was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. And yet...

(Astrophysicist Alexander) Kashlinsky's team used NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope to measure the cosmic radiation, which is infrared light invisible to the human eye, in a small sliver of the sky.

So in other words, CNN just grabbed a random pretty picture and threw it in.

Oh yeah, and they don't even know what they're writing the article about.

In the same issue of Nature, a team of Chinese researchers reported on a separate astronomical issue.

They said they had found that the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way is small enough that it would fit between the Earth and the sun. That puts it at half the size of previous estimates.


greyspace said...


American science education in action... :(

zandperl said...

Aw man, don't say that - I'm an American science educator! To make matters worse, this semester I'm teaching a science class for pre-service elementary teachers. :-P

doris said...

Surely they just take this all from the Press Releases issued by the researchers?