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January 10, 2015

Researchers say light signal from space suggests merging black holes

Researchers say light signal from space suggests merging black holes

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Artist’s depiction of two supermassive black holes merging.
Image: NASA.

On Wednesday, George Djorgovski and collaborators reported in the journal Nature on an unusual light signal they say suggests two supermassive black holes are merging, a phenomenon never seen before, though theorized.

The discovery could clarify how black holes merge and galaxies evolve, and could also provide a better understanding of the so-called “final parsec problem” — the inability of theories to predict how, or even how quickly, the final phases of black hole mergers happen.

The team discovered the light coming from quasar PG 1302-102 in data from the Catalina Real-time Transient Survey (CTRS), which is able to study light sources from four fifths of the night sky using three ground-based US and Australian telescopes.

Coauthor and Caltech computational scientist Matthew Graham emphasized the final stages of these black hole mergers are not well understood.

Sine wave

Image: Geek3

CTRS has so far identified 20 quasars with similar signals, but Graham said this one is the best example because it has a clear signal that recurs about every five years, similar to a sine wave (see the 2D graph shown on the left).



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June 11, 2008

Delta II rocket launches GLAST observatory

Delta II rocket launches GLAST observatory

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

GLAST launches aboard a Delta II rocket
Image: NASA.

The Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) satellite has been launched aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II Heavy carrier rocket. Lift-off occurred from Launch Complex 17B at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, United States, at 16:05 GMT. Spacecraft separation occurred about 75 minutes after launch, just before 17:20 GMT. The launch was reported to have been successful.

Another view of the launch
Image: NASA.

The Delta II rocket flew in the 7920H configuration, with nine GEM-46 solid rocket motors, and no third stage. This is the fifth flight of a Delta II Heavy, which differs from the standard Delta II in that it has more powerful solid rocket motors, originally developed for the Delta III. At 4627 kg (10201 lbs), GLAST is the heaviest payload ever launched by a Delta II. It will operate in a low Earth orbit, approximately 550 kilometres above the Earth’s surface.

GLAST will be used to study gamma rays emitted from supermassive black holes in other galaxies, and pulsars in our own galaxy. It is a replacement for the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, which operated between April 1991 and June 2000. It will be used by scientists in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States. The spacecraft will be operated by the US space agency, NASA. The United States Department of Energy is also involved in the mission.

This is the 29th orbital launch of 2008, and the second to be conducted by a Delta II. The next Delta II launch will occur in just over a week, when a lighter configuration 7420 rocket will be used to place the Jason-2 satellite into orbit. In total, this is the 136th launch of a Delta II, the 134th successful Delta II launch, and the 81st consecutive success.



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February 9, 2005

Star ousted from galaxy by black hole

Star ousted from galaxy by black hole – Wikinews, the free news source

Star ousted from galaxy by black hole

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Wednesday, February 9, 2005

A close encounter with the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way has set a star on a one way trip into intergalactic space. The star, detected at the MMT Observatory in Tucson, Arizona, is zipping outward at a speed of 1.5 million miles per hour. Rocketing along at twice the galactic escape velocity, the Milky Way’s gravitational attraction doesn’t have the holding power to keep the star from disappearing into the emptiness between galaxies.

“We have never before seen a star moving fast enough to completely escape the confines of our galaxy,” Warren Brown of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) said. “We’re tempted to call it the outcast star because it was forcefully tossed from its home. Only the powerful gravity of a very massive black hole could propel a star with enough force to exit our galaxy.”

Using measurements of the star’s line-of-sight velocity, the scientists have concluded the star, cataloged as SDSS J090745.0+24507, is moving almost directly away from galactic center. Composition and age of the star also provide evidence of the star’s origin and ultimate fate. “Because this is a metal-rich star, we believe that it recently came from a star-forming region like that in the galactic center,” said Brown. Less than 80 million years were needed for the star to reach its current location, which is consistent with its estimated age.

Margaret J. Geller, Michael J. Kurtz and Scott J. Kenyon, along with Brown, will publish their find in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where scientists study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.

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January 7, 2005

Discovery of the most powerful explosion in the Universe

Discovery of the most powerful explosion in the Universe

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Friday, January 7, 2005

Calculations based on data from the Chandra orbiting telescope show the explosion in Galaxy cluster MS 0735 is the largest known anywhere in the universe. The explosion is thought to have been fueled by a supermassive blackhole consuming over 300 million stars over hundreds of thousands of years. MS 075 is 2.6 billion light years from Earth.

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