The alignment of quasars, another mystery in the universe

Friday, 28 November, 2014

Quasars are galaxies with supermassive black holes at their centres. They also shine rather brightly, at least compared to our galaxy. So far, so good.

But here’s the thing, astronomers making observations of the cosmos using the Chile based Very Large Telescope (VLT) have found that the rotation axes of these black holes often align, or are parallel, with other quasars, even if they are billions of light years apart from each other

The new VLT results indicate that the rotation axes of the quasars tend to be parallel to the large-scale structures in which they find themselves. So, if the quasars are in a long filament then the spins of the central black holes will point along the filament. The researchers estimate that the probability that these alignments are simply the result of chance is less than 1%.

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That’s no black hole, THIS is a black hole…

Tuesday, 24 June, 2014

At four million solar masses, it’s reasonable to describe the black hole – or wormhole, depending on who you ask – at the centre of the galaxy, as sizeable. That pales in comparison though to a galaxy some three and a half billion light years distant – thankfully – that sports a black hole of eighteen billion solar masses.

Around 3.5 billion light-years away, this galaxy is estimated to contain the largest black hole presently known, at 18 billion solar masses. (Although, the error bars for this one and NGC 1277’s overlap substantially.) But the most spectacular part of this galaxy – and why we’re able to learn so much about it’s central region – is because there’s a 100 million Solar mass black hole (that’s 25 times larger than the one at the Milky Way’s core) that’s orbiting the even larger one!

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The universe may be a black hole, does that explain a lot, or not?

Wednesday, 26 February, 2014

The idea that the universe may be a simulation intrigues me, if only because the idea is interesting. But here’s another thought, it could be our universe resides within, or took its origins from, a black hole:

But one compelling idea is that the seed of a universe is similar to the seed of a plant: It’s a chunk of essential material, tightly compressed, hidden inside a protective shell. This precisely describes what is created inside a black hole. Black holes are the corpses of giant stars. When such a star runs out of fuel, its core collapses inward. Gravity pulls everything into an increasingly fierce grip. Temperatures reach 100 billion degrees. Atoms are smashed. Electrons are shredded. Those pieces are further crumpled.

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How could astronauts could fall into black holes, let’s count the ways

Monday, 10 February, 2014

There are three ways, apparently, that an astronaut could fall into a black hole – it’s a good thing they’ve been catalogued then – and while the chances of survival are pretty slim, non existent really, at least “information” about the astronaut would be preserved, even if the hapless space explorer were to be completely crushed:

This original picture of black holes holds that they essentially destroy all information about anything that ventures past their event horizons – astronauts included. But quantum physics, the best description so far of how the universe behaves on a subatomic level, includes a principle known as unitarity, which maintains that information cannot be destroyed. To resolve this conflict, some scientists have recently (and controversially) suggested that black holes have “firewalls” at their event horizons. These are zones of extraordinarily destructive radiation. In this scenario, our astronaut would be instantly incinerated when crossing the event horizon, as would anything else falling into a black hole. The radiation released by the firewall would preserve information about the destroyed objects, astronauts included.

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Once in a four-dimensional star, a universe may form

Friday, 27 September, 2013

As if the universe were not weird enough… some recent thought on the topic, with the aim of going one better than the Big Bang theory, now suggests that the cosmos we reside in might have come to be as a result of a four-dimensional star collapsing into a black hole.

It could be time to bid the Big Bang bye-bye. Cosmologists have speculated that the Universe formed from the debris ejected when a four-dimensional star collapsed into a black hole – a scenario that would help to explain why the cosmos seems to be so uniform in all directions. The standard Big Bang model tells us that the Universe exploded out of an infinitely dense point, or singularity. But nobody knows what would have triggered this outburst: the known laws of physics cannot tell us what happened at that moment.

A four-dimensional star? That’s a new one on me… ever seen one of those before? I’m pretty sure I haven’t.

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Meantime here’s a photo of a black hole that I took earlier…

Monday, 6 February, 2012

into the black hole

Ever wondered what a black hole actually looks like? The Event Horizon Telescope, a joint venture project combining the efforts of some twenty astronomical and scientific groups, which will attempt to capture high resolution images of the huge black hole located at the centre of the Milky Way, may soon enlighten us.

Over the next decade, our group proposes to combine existing and planned millimeter/submillimeter facilities into a high-sensitivity, high angular resolution Event Horizon Telescope that will bring us as close to the edge of black hole as we will ever come.

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Don’t bother going to the NGC 4889 black hole, it’ll come to us

Thursday, 8 December, 2011

A super-massive black hole, some ten times the size of our solar system has been found in a galaxy about 336 million light years away from Earth… a distance that, hopefully, constitutes just a little more than mere breathing space.

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Do some black holes pre-date the big bang?

Tuesday, 10 May, 2011

If we live in what is referred to as an oscillating universe, where the cosmos goes through cycles of collapses, called big crunches, to rebirths, called big bangs, then the universe should reboot, or start again from scratch, without carrying forward any matter from the previous incarnation.

While none have been identified though, it is possible that some black holes may have survived the destruction of the previous universe, to continue their existence in a new one.

By some accounts, a Big Crunch generates a singularity that ought to cause everything in the Universe to merge. But Carr and Coley say that in some circumstances, black holes of a certain mass could avoid this fate and survive the crunch as separate entities. The masses for which this is possible range from a few hundred million kilograms to about the mass of our Sun.

Not only is this a mind boggling concept, it also begs the question, if black holes can endure the ultimate big crunch, could other forms of matter also do likewise?

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Black holes may cool down advanced civilisations that are hot

Friday, 8 April, 2011

The more advanced the civilisation, the greater the need for keeping computer and communication equipment cool. But how to keep such equipment cool enough to operate properly without expending more heat generating energy? One solution may be to take advantage of the near frigid temperatures in the vicinity of black holes

If you build an insulating shell outside the event horizon of a black hole, everything inside the shell would eventually cool down to the temperature of the black hole. However, it would not be necessary to build a complete shell around a black hole in order to take advantage of its low temperature. For example you can simply point the radiators of your black hole orbiter toward the black hole and insulate the side facing away from the black hole.

By the way, I’m not sure if this is also 1 April reading but it’s still an interesting idea.

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The intriguing thought our universe resides inside a black hole

Thursday, 29 July, 2010

A somewhat mind-bending thought, our universe may be residing within a black hole, an idea that may have some credence, especially if the behaviour of certain neutrinos is anything to go by.

How would we know if we are living inside a black hole? Well, a spinning black hole would have imparted some spin to the space-time inside it, and this should show up as a “preferred direction” in our universe, says Poplawski. Such a preferred direction would result in the violation of a property of space-time called Lorentz symmetry, which links space and time. It has been suggested that such a violation could be responsible for the observed oscillations of neutrinos from one type to another.

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