Posts Tagged ‘galaxies’

Galaxy Having a Major Baby Boom

Monday, October 27th, 2008 by Bellatrix

Astronomers have discovered a distant galaxy making stars at an amazing rate. It is creating stars at a rate more than a thousand times that of the Milky Way, but the remarkable thing about it is its extreme distance. This galaxy may call into question the current theory of how galaxies form.

The galaxy, nicknamed the baby boom galaxy, is making stars at a rate of about 4000 per year, compared to the Milky Way, which makes only 10 stars per year. This galaxy is also located very far from us, 12.3 billion light years. We have observed other starburst galaxies before, but none this far away, or similarly this old. This galaxy is a very young galaxy, since it is so far, we are looking at it as it was almost 12 billions years ago. That gives this galaxy the record for furthest (or youngest) starburst galaxy ever observed. The furthest before this one was 11.7 billion light years from us.

Now this galaxy calls into question the current most popular model for how galaxies are believed to form, called the hierarchal model. This model states that galaxies form slowly by consuming other smaller galaxies and star clusters, thus the stars in the galaxies should all have different birthdays. However, with this new galaxy all the stars will have very similar birthdays, meaning formation of around the same time. So the question now is whether this case is the norm or the exception. With this kind of star formation we may be witnessing the birth of one of the most massive elliptical galaxies in the universe.

The discovery of this was only possible through combined use of several different telescopes. Measurements in the radio wavelengths were made with the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array in New Mexico. Infrared data was used from both the Spitzer space telescope and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea Hawaii. Visible light images were used from both the Hubble Space Telescope and Japan’s Subaru Telescope also atop Mauna Kea. The identification of this galaxy and its properties would not have been possible without observations in the full range of the light spectrum. So its discovery is a fine example of the combination of different available technologies, from different sponsoring organizations. Now that we know how to find them, i.e. using data from across the electromagnetic spectrum, hopefully we can find out if galaxy baby booms were common in the distant universe, and if not, what is special about this case.

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LHC: Doomsday or Discovery?

Tuesday, September 16th, 2008 by Evan Finnes

Where can you find the world’s largest refrigerator, the world’s fastest racetrack, the hottest spot on Earth, and the emptiest space for thousands of light years? CERN’s Large Hadron Particle Accelerator lays claim to each of these records. Propelled by 9300 super-cooled magnets (-271.3°C), a particle will travel 26,658m at speeds of 99.99% the speed of light through a vacuum whose pressure is 10-13 atm’s. Two colliding beams of particles will collide with energies of 14 Tev which will generate temperatures 100,000 times the temperature of the center of the sun.

The LHC will be conducing six experiments: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, TOTEM, and LHCf. The ALICE experiment (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) will attempt to recreate the earliest conditions predicted by the big bang. This will be achieved by colliding lead ions at speeds of 99.99% the speed of light. The collision will separate the ions into protons and neutrons, and under temperatures 100,000 times the heat of the sun, should further break down into a quark-gluon plasma, scientists hope to observe this plasma as it cools and recreates known particles.

On September 10th at precisely 10:28 am, the first step towards experimentation and hopefully discovery was taken, as a test beam successfully traveled the nearly 27,000 m tunnel. For CERN this was a moment of triumph as they observed their marvel of engineering come to flawless life. But their 20 year journey was not without pain, as CERN even had to battle a doomsday scenario lawsuit.

On March 21, 2008 Walter Wagner, founder of Citizens Against The Large Hadron Collider, filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Energy, Fermi lab, the National Science foundation, and CERN. The goal of the lawsuit was to put a time restraint on the activation of the LHC while safety issues were evaluated. The safety issues Wagner is concerned about include miniature black holes, and strangelets. Wagner fears that if the LHC creates miniature black holes, they would fill their tremendous appetites by feasting on the Earth. Defendants of the LHC say that this is of no concern because any black hole that does form would have a lifespan of about 10-23 seconds. Wagner also fears that if strangelets are formed they will transform the entire planet into a lump of exotic matter.

Once the experimentation has begun, and Wagner can once again sleep through the night, the LHC hopes to prove or disprove a major theory, discover new subatomic particles, search for extra dimensions, discover what causes the formation of mass, and explore the mysteries of dark matter. Whether or not all or even one the goals are achieved, one thing is for certain; the LHC will expand our knowledge and provide us with a clearer image of the universe in which we live.

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Black Hole Catapult

Thursday, September 4th, 2008 by Bellatrix

It is now generally accepted in the astrophysics community that at the center of nearly all galaxies lays a super massive black hole. However, there exists a theory about black holes that could change that. The theory, derived from Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, says that if two black holes were to merge, gravitational waves would fly out in one direction, kicking the black hole in the opposite direction like a recoil. The theory sounded interesting but no one had ever observed two black holes merging, let alone a black hole recoiling. The possibility of two massive black holes merging was also just theory, as you can imagine it’s hard to observe two invisible things crashing into each other.

Well a team from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) has, for the first time, witnessed these events. The team witnessed a recoiling black hole moving at a very high speed of 2650 kilometers per second! Because of the tremendous power of this recoiling effect the black hole was catapulted from its parent galaxy. The astronomers were able to track it by the gas, or accretion disk, moving with the black hole; and also by the excited gas that was left behind.

This new observation has many implications. It brings this process from the world of just theory to the world of actuality. It not only tells us that these “super kicks” happen but also that black holes do merge, and lends support to the theory of gravitational waves, which have yet to be directly observed. This also means that there are galaxies out there without a super massive black hole at the center. That fact raises questions about the role or dependence on the central black hole and galaxy formation. Is the black hole there at the start of the galaxy? Is it needed for the galaxy to evolve normally? And what effect does it have on the host galaxy when it looses its black hole?

Astrophysicists, observers and theorists alike, are invigorated to start trying to answer some of these questions. Both earth and space based telescopes will be set to try and detect more of these events, and work is being done to get gravitational wave detectors working. Theorists will also be getting going on more details of these types of events with the help of computer simulations. Weird to think there might be these super massive black holes just floating around out in between the galaxies, lurking there, possibly waiting for a future spacecraft to fly right in.

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Monday, May 12th, 2008 by Aridian PR

New website to offer monthly prizes for winning astronomy photos

Minneapolis, MN (May 12, 2008) – Today, thousands of astronomers are looking to the skies. May 12, 2008 is National Astronomy Day and is marking the celebration by announcing an astro-photo contest for photographers. The contest is tentatively set to begin in July shortly after the launch of the new website.

Participants can submit astronomy photographs of stars, galaxies, meteors, or any other subject associated with the universe. Each month the website will pick the best entry and the winner will receive a $500 cash prize. At the end of the first 12-month contest, one winning photo will be selected as the grand prize winner and published as part of an advertisement in the 2009 September issue of “Astronomy” magazine. All winning photographs will also be included in a 2010 calendar.

“We feel this contest speaks to photographers passionate about the universe,” said author Terence Witt. “We are excited to receive the submissions and are sure the contest will yield the best in amateur astronomy photography.”

The objective of the National Astronomy Day is to bring astronomy to the people. Science museums, planetariums, observatories, and universities hosted weekend events such as discussions with astronauts, displays of moon rocks, and even a space ballet.

The event brings the public closer to astronomy. believes in this philosophy. “Everyone can understand the universe,” said Witt. “It is a fascinating experience to look through a telescope and get a tiny glimpse of all the universe holds.

About Terence Witt
Terence Witt is the founder and former CEO of Witt Biomedical Corporation. He holds a BSEE from Oregon State University and lives in Florida. “Our Undiscovered Universe-Introducing Null Physics” is Witt’s first book.

Victoria Lansdon
Public Relations Director
Aridian Publishing
(321) 773-3426

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