« Falling Floor Lamp | Home | Hand Bag »

August 2, 2010

It came from outer space

Eso1028a-2

Above, an artist's rendering of the most powerful microquasar, or pair of jets, ever seen from a stellar black hole, observed by astronomers using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope.

Very, very large and very, very far away story short: "If the black hole were shrunk to the size of a soccer ball, each jet would extend from the Earth to beyond the orbit of Pluto."

Here's a July 20, 2010 Washington Post story with details.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Gigantic gas bubble  from black hole spans 1,000 light-years

An artist illustrates the most powerful microquasar, or pair of jets, ever seen from a stellar black hole that astronomers observed with European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope. The microquasar blows a huge bubble of hot gas and ultra-fast particles spanning 1,000 light-years.

Here's how the European Southern Observatory describes it: Black holes are known to release a prodigious amount of energy when they swallow matter. It was thought that most of the energy came out in the form of radiation, predominantly X-rays. But new findings published in the journal Nature show that some black holes can release as much energy, and perhaps much more, in the form of collimated, or narrow, jets of fast-moving particles.

Scientists could observe the spots where the fast jets slam into the surrounding interstellar gas, heating it and triggering an expansion. Their observations revealed that the bubble of hot gas is inflating at a speed of almost 1 million kilometers per hour. Astronomers do not have the means to measure the size of the black hole itself. But what they do know is that the length of the jets is amazing when compared with the estimated size of the black hole that launched them.

"If the black hole were shrunk to the size of a soccer ball, each jet would extend from the Earth to beyond the orbit of Pluto," says Robert Soria, who co-wrote the scientific paper, titled "A 300-parsec-long jet-inflated bubble around a powerful microquasar in the galaxy NGC 7793." This microquasar is twice as large and tens of times more powerful than any other known microquasars.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

I've long since abandoned trying to understand interstellar distances.

I tried really hard for many years but my human brain is simply incapable of understanding what deep time and light-years really mean in my terms.

I'm fine with it being incomprehensible.

August 2, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c5dea53ef013485ea7ece970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference It came from outer space:

Comments

Actually interstellar distances are quite easy to understand...

They become clearer the faster you travel.

You really have to look past Einstein's "nothing can travel faster than light".

I believe it's around the corner, what corner I don't know!

Posted by: Joe Peach | Aug 2, 2010 4:39:30 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.