Monday, June 5, 2017

Will wonders never cease?

Nope, I'm not being ironic. Recent astronomical reports are wonderfully amazing. I often marvel at the subtle details -- and mind-blowing implications -- astronomers can glean from their observations. Such as:

"NASA Space Probes Have Detected a Human-Made Barrier Surrounding Earth: We are changing space itself." And as this barrier of very low frequency RF waves is expanding the Van Allen Belts, extending the domain of near-Earth space that's not filled with deadly radiation, it seems like a good thing. If we can expand the protection zone out past geosynch altitudes, that will make travel up a space elevator safe. (If only we could build a space elevator ... but someday [I predict], that too, will happen.)

And speaking of waves ...

Suddenly, I want a pizza
"Massive Lava Waves Detected on Jupiter’s Moon Io." Consider this: Thanks to a rare orbital alignment between Europa and Io, an international team of researchers has identified and tracked a pair of lava waves as they coursed around Loki Patera, which is larger than Lake Ontario, and with a surface area of 8,300 square miles (21,500 square km). How cool (okay, that was ironic) is that?

Now on to a different sort of wave: gravitational.

Artist conception (of course)
What's cooler than a black hole? How about learning more about how those are formed? How about seeing one form? It seems like astronomers have. Herewith two great articles on the topic: "A star turned into a black hole before Hubble’s very eyes" and "Astronomers may have seen a star collapse directly to a black hole."

To be clear: the Hubble telescope is an optical instrument. It doesn't detect gravitational waves. But the collapse of a star into a stellar-mass black hole generates gravitational waves. And speaking of detecting gravitational waves ...

And also of black holes, and twos, consider "LIGO detects third black-hole collision -- and it's not quite like the others." LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, has now detected its third intermediate-mass black-hole merger. And the alluded-to difference? The latest merger detection involved a pair of black holes that had nonaligned spins. By inference, this latest observation involved a different sort of history than the earlier detections.

And still speaking of black holes, and twos, but on a hugely massive scale, consider "A familiar galaxy with a new surprise: Two supermassive black holes." Most likely, two galaxies merged -- and the super-massive black holes at their centers have not yet also merged. Won't that be spectacular when it happens?

1 comment:

jaguar said...

Yeah, The space is full of wonders. I would like to live forever to see the world.