Black Hole Spin Could Be Key in Understanding How Galaxies Expand

http://www.ras.org.uk/images/stories/press/black%20hole%20spin%20courtesy%20of%20nasa-jpl-caltech.jpg

Black Hole Spin

Scientists at Durham University (UK) have discovered a new way to measure the spin of ginormous black holes. According to the study, this could improve our understanding of how our galaxies are getting bigger; I have always wondered why a lot of the galaxies swirl and grow.  A team of astronomers found a black hole that is ten million times the size of our Sun in the center of a spiral galaxy that is about 500 million light years away from Earth. This black hole has been feeding off the materials in the disc of the galaxy which may explain its enormous size.

The data collected allowed the astronomers to measure the distance of the disc from the black hole. Distance depends on how fast the black hole’s spin is, a faster black hole’s spin pulls the disc closer, and by measuring the distance of the disc, they are able to predict the speed of the spin. The scientists agree that this could help in understanding how galaxies grow over a span of billions of years.

(Two New Blue Developments in Our Galaxy)

Almost all galaxies contain black holes. They shoot out extremely hot particles that prevent gases in the galaxy itself from cooling, therefore inhibiting the growth of new stars. The jets of energy that black holes shoot out could be linked to why black holes spin. Unless the matter is close to the black hole, it is difficult to measure spin, since the power of the black hole does not reach to further matter. The odd thing about black holes, according to Professor Chris Done, is that the black hole spin may affect the nature of the whole galaxy.

We know the black hole in the centre of each galaxy is linked to the galaxy as a whole, which is strange because black holes are tiny in relation to the size of a galaxy. This would be like something the size of a large boulder (10m), influencing something the size of the Earth.

When a black hole spins, it drags particles from the accretion disc. The more particles it drags, the faster it is able to spin. Measuring the distance between the two leads to the possibility of measuring a black hole’s spin.

(New Plausible Theory of Black Holes: Gateways to Other Universes)

 

Sources:

http://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/224-news-2013/2320-capturing-black-hole-spin-could-further-understanding-of-galaxy-growth

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accretion_disc

Wondergressive: Two New Blue Developments in Our Galaxy

Wondergressive: New Plausible Theory of Black Holes

Augmented Reality Blows My Mind—Twice

Numerous studies have shown that Wondergressive readers are funnier, more attractive, likeable and intelligent than the average human being (links pending, but the science looks solid to me). This being the case, I’m sure many of you were already aware of futuristic-sounding, mind-blowing technology known as augmented reality. It even sounds very sci-fi. I’ve chanced upon this amazing bit of science twice (that I’m aware of) so far, and both times I’ve been left with my mouth hanging open.

The first time I ran into it was at Printing Arts, a print shop in Broadview, IL. They were printing baseball cards (which are apparently “in” again) as well as some other sports-related collateral when one of the guys showed me a card that was about an eighth of an inch thick. It had a cutout on the front through which you could feel the fabric of some player’s jersey. I think it was some football player’s, but honestly, I’m not a sports girl so I don’t remember exactly what game it was. Anyway, he told me to take out my phone, pull up the camera and wait for it to focus on the card from directly above it. Not sure what to expect, I played along. Holy shit—a video started to play on my camera screen! I was floored. Still am, actually.

Basically, the camera picks up on some code which wasn’t visible on the face of the card, accesses the corresponding video from the interwebs and streams it right onto your phone. This all happens in the space of seconds, not minutes, and is virtually transparent to the user.

The second instance was very recent. A work acquaintance showed me an app he had on his iPhone called SkyView by Terminal Eleven. Being something of an astronomy nut and long-time stargazer, I was again amazed by how far technology had come while I wasn’t looking.

StarView is an augmented reality app that shows you a view of the sky right on your iPhone. As you move your mobile device through the air, it seamless reveals the heavens in your little window. Stars, constellations, planets and even satellites all show up. You can further see the trajectory of celestial objects for a 24-hour period and even change the date to see the results of the past or the future.

While both those examples are great and awe-inspiring for sure, there are actually many practical uses for augmented reality, especially in our increasingly mobile lives. Educational apps like Science AR and Anatomy 4D turn posters and other printed materials into interactive pieces. Virtual History ROMA boasts about its “full-immersion panoramic experience.”

WorkSnug allows you to see where free WiFi is located and even has a decibel meter to gauge noise level so that you can work comfortably wherever you’re at. Speaking of cities, Acrossair tells Londoners where their nearest tube station is via their iPhone’s video function.

User “Mos D.” says of Yelp’s Monocle app:

I love monocle (sic). Stand on the street, point it around you 360 degrees, and it shows you nearby places. Imagine you are the Terminator and that’s how it works.

Is that what all this is coming to? We’ll all have Terminators in our pockets and will navigate the world through miniature screens? If it means not having to ask questionable, seedy-looking strangers where the subway is, I’m on board.

References
Printing Arts
SkyView
Terminal Eleven Twitter
Science AR app
Anatomy 4D app
Virtual History ROMA app
WorkSnug
Acrossair
Mos D. Yelp Monocle comment

Amateur Astronomer Films Jupiter Explosion

 

Amateur astronomer Dan Peterson filmed a comet making an explosive entry into Jupiter’s atmosphere and has provided viewers with the video.  For those of us interested in events happening outside of Terra, this is really cool footage.

Apparently the last asteroid strike on the planet in 2009 left a scar the size of the Pacific Ocean on the planet’s cloud tops.  That is huge!

To get a better idea of Jupiter’s size take a look at this image captured by the Cassini spacecraft.