Gamma ray flash was star swallowed whole by black hole

Yikes! What a way to go. One wonders if there were any planets around that star and if they may have contained life. We’ll never know.

Black hole eats star, producing bright gamma-ray flash

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations UC Berkeley  | June 16, 2011

BERKELEY —

A bright flash of gamma rays observed March 28 by the Swift satellite may have been the death rattle of a star falling into a massive black hole and being ripped apart, according to a team of astronomers led by the University of California, Berkeley.

When the Swift Gamma Burst Mission spacecraft first detected the flash within the constellation Draco, astronomers thought it was a gamma-ray burst from a collapsing star and designated it GRB 110328A. On March 31, however, UC Berkeley’s Joshua Bloom sent out an email circular suggesting that it wasn’t a typical gamma-ray burst at all, but a high-energy jet produced as a star about the size of our sun was shredded by a black hole a million times more massive.

Gamma-ray flare observed by the Swift satellite.

Images from Swift's Ultraviolet/Optical (white, purple) and X-ray telescopes (yellow and red) were combined in this view of the gamma-ray flare, catalogued as GRB 110328A. The blast was detected only in X-rays, which were collected over a 3.4-hour period on March 28, 2011. (NASA/Swift/Stefan Immler)

Careful analysis of the Swift data and subsequent observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory confirmed Bloom’s initial insight. The details are published online today (Thursday, June 16) in Science Express, a rapid publication arm of the journal Science.

“This is truly different from any explosive event we have seen before,” Bloom said.

What made this gamma-ray flare, called Sw 1644+57, stand out from a typical burst were its long duration and the fact that it appeared to come from the center of a galaxy nearly 4 billion light years away. Since most, if not all, galaxies are thought to contain a massive black hole at the center, a long-duration burst could conceivably come from the relatively slow tidal disruption of an infalling star, the astronomers said.

“This burst produced a tremendous amount of energy over a fairly long period of time, and the event is still going on more than two and a half months later,” said Bloom, an associate professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley. “That’s because as the black hole rips the star apart, the mass swirls around like water going down a drain, and this swirling process releases a lot of energy.”

Bloom and his colleagues propose in their Science Express paper that some 10 percent of the infalling star’s mass is turned into energy and irradiated as X-rays from the swirling accretion disk or as X-rays and higher energy gamma rays from a relativistic jet that punches out along the rotation axis. Earth just happened to be in the eye of the gamma-ray beam.

Bloom draws an analogy with a quasar, which is a distant galaxy that emits bright, high-energy light because of the massive black hole at its center gobbling up stars and sending out a jet of X-rays along its rotation axis. Observed from an angle, these bright emissions are called active galactic nuclei, but when observed down the axis of the jet, they’re referred to as blazars.

“We argue that this must be jetted material and we’re looking down the barrel,” he said. “Jetting is a common phenomenon when you have accretion disks, and black holes actually prefer to make jets.”

Looking back at previous observations of this region of the cosmos, Bloom and his team could find no evidence of X-ray or gamma-ray emissions, leading them to conclude that this is a “one-off event,” Bloom said.

“Here, you have a black hole sitting quiescently, not gobbling up matter, and all of a sudden something sets it off,” Bloom said. “This could happen in our own galaxy, where a black hole sits at the center living in quiescence, and occasionally burbles or hiccups as it swallows a little bit of gas. From a distance, it would appear dormant, until a star randomly wanders too close and is shredded.”

Probable tidal disruptions of a star by a massive black hole have previously been seen at X-ray, ultraviolet and optical wavelengths, but never before at gamma-ray energies. Such random events, especially looking down the barrel of a jet, are incredibly rare, “probably once in 100 million years in any given galaxy,” said Bloom. “I would be surprised if we saw another one of these anywhere in the sky in the next decade.”

Hubble Space Telescope image of galaxy.

A visible-light image of GRB 110328A's host galaxy (arrow) taken on April 4, 2011, by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3. The galaxy is 3.8 billion light years away. (NASA/ESA/A. Fruchter, STScI)

The astronomers suspect that the gamma-ray emissions began March 24 or 25 in the uncatalogued galaxy at a redshift of 0.3534, putting it at a distance of about 3.8 billion light years. Bloom and his colleagues estimate that the emissions will fade over the next year.

“We think this event was detected around the time it was as bright as it will ever be, and if it’s really a star being ripped apart by a massive black hole, we predict that it will never happen again in this galaxy,” he said.

Bloom’s colleagues include UC Berkeley theoretical physicist Elliot Quataert, who models the production of jets from accretion disks, and UC Berkeley astronomers S. Bradley Cenko, Daniel A. Perley, Nathaniel R. Butler, Linda E. Strubbe, Antonino Cucchiara, Geoffrey C. Bower and Adam N. Morgan; Dimitrios Giannios and Brian D. Metzger of Princeton University; Andrew J. Levan of the University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom; Nial R. Tanvir, Paul T. O’ Brien, Andrew R. King and Sergei Nayakshin of the University of Leicester in the U.K.; Fabio De Colle, Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz and James Guillochon of UC Santa Cruz; William H. Lee of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México in Mexico City; Andrew S. Fruchter of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.; and Alexander J. van der Horst of the Universities Space Research Association in Huntsville, Ala.

Levan is first author of the companion Science Express paper, and leader of the Chandra and Hubble Space Telescope observation team.

Bloom and his laboratory are supported by grants from NASA and the National Science Foundation.

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115 Responses to Gamma ray flash was star swallowed whole by black hole

  1. LeeHarvey says:

    I’ve always wondered what the potential is for ‘quick’ destruction of a star system in the course of a galactic collision such as is expected between the Milky Way and Andromeda in a few billion years. It would seem that the odds would be substantially higher than of seeing such an event happen in a ‘static’ galaxy…

  2. PhilJourdan says:

    I love the term “flash”. I guess in astronomical scales, it was a flash (but then what is a normal burst like?). A fascinating finding, and due to its relative longevity, was a good one to study.

  3. PaulH says:

    Can we add voracious black holes to the list of catastrophes caused by global warming? ;->

  4. Bratise says:

    OT The accuweather global warming page by Brett linked here is not “lukewarmer” and you are giving it undone recognition by doing so. Its most definitely in the “pure warmista camp” have a look for yourself not one mention of solar news or IPCC etc. Its been veering this way for some time as his job probably depends on continuation of AGW and the site itself. Suggestion put it in the same list as RC etc. link here

    http://www.accuweather.com/blogs/climatechange/Science

  5. dougsherman says:

    “… we predict it will never happen again in this galaxy.”

    Now I have to question every other conclusion this guy has made.

  6. Jan Sobieski says:

    More unraveling. Climates crooks at work.
    “Changing Tides: Research Center Under Fire for ‘Adjusted’ Sea-Level Data Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/06/17/research-center-under-fire-for-adjusted-sea-level-data/#ixzz1PYTtsLrc

  7. Nigel S says:

    What’s the carbon footprint of that?

  8. reason says:

    “a galactic collision such as is expected between the Milky Way and Andromeda in a few billion years.”

    Kinda puts “our” problems into perspective…

  9. WillR says:

    Now THAT was Global Warming — err Globular warming — you know what I mean!

  10. peterhodges says:

    may have been…thought to…could conceivably

    Hmmm…sounds familiar.

  11. reason says:

    “Now I have to question every other conclusion this guy has made.”

    I second that.

  12. “a galactic collision such as is expected between the Milky Way and Andromeda in a few billion years.”

    Ack! tax now to prevent this AGC (Anthropogenic galactic collision)

  13. Olen says:

    Good to be on the outer edge.

  14. F. Ross says:

    dougsherman says:
    June 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

    “… we predict it will never happen again in this galaxy.”

    Now I have to question every other conclusion this guy has made.

    Well put; my thoughts exactly.

  15. Andrew30 says:

    dougsherman;
    [“… we predict it will never happen again in this galaxy.”
    Now I have to question every other conclusion this guy has made.]

    Yes, ‘never’ is a long time.

  16. Jim G says:

    So, how does a black hole “grow” since time stops at the singularity, it would seem that nothing could ever add to that singulariity and would take a semi-infinite amount of time to even approach it?

  17. DirkH says:

    ““We think this event was detected around the time it was as bright as it will ever be, and if it’s really a star being ripped apart by a massive black hole, we predict that it will never happen again in this galaxy,” he said.”

    He takes himself far too seriously. We are only watching out for gamma rays for a few years now and immediately (in historical terms) we see such an event – how unlikely is *that* when it happens so rarely? I can already see the headline next year when scientists will be baffled, surprised and flabbergasted when it happens again.

  18. LarryD says:

    Random notes:

    The center regions of galaxies are high radiation areas, not likely for life to develop there. If the star migrated there from elsewhere, the high radiation would most likely kill any higher life forms in its solar system long before the star was torn apart.

    Jim G: matter can enter the event horizon, though, and the additional mass will enlarge the event horizon.

  19. tallbloke says:

    Sorry, have I strayed onto a blog discussing plots for sci fi movies?

    Some of these astronomers straining at faraway gnats could better spend some time studying what is going on closer to home.

  20. Ray says:

    Just a few days ago I was looking around on Google map for strange shapes and found this thing at 46°27′18.52″N 119°24′27.56″W.

    Searching further I found out that it was the LIGO observatory at Hanford Nuclear Reservation. They have been spending hundreds of millions for this marvelous interferometer that was specifically built to detect ripples in the gravitation. The sort of ripples that such present phenomenon would cause. Yet, they are still operating and they never been able to detect anything with it, not even the present event. What a waste of money.

  21. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    uncatalogued galaxy at a redshift of 0.3534, putting it at a distance of about 3.8 billion light years.

    The bad news is that the red shift was caused by the black hole and it’s only a stones throw away.

  22. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Now I’m wondering about rogue “wandering” black holes in space, possibly heading our way. Could a “small” one slingshot around a galactic core and be ejected out into deep space, possibly at a significant fraction of c (speed of light)? Without a noticeable accretion disk (perhaps consumed during traveling), would we even see it coming?

  23. Mac the Knife says:

    ‘And in other news, am interesting vignette from outside our Milky Way Galaxy’
    Thanks, Anthony!!!

  24. Robert says:

    Jim G says:
    June 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

    So, how does a black hole “grow” since time stops at the singularity, it would seem that nothing could ever add to that singulariity and would take a semi-infinite amount of time to even approach it?

    That’s is only what the observer outside a black hole sees, Its all about the frame of reference.

  25. PaulH from Scotland says:

    @tallbloke
    Despite hugely valuing your AGW de-programming posts all over the blogosphere, I feel the need to call you up on this one.

    Humans will eventually colonise space (you can probably already guess I’m a Trekkie), and the cost of this research, albeit highly qualified, is probably miniscule compared to the billions spent of the AGW bollocks.

    Research like this fills my optimism bank. Yes, I know it’s a wee bit irrational, but you may wish to consider indulging us largely harmless Trekkies…

    Other than that, keep up the fabulous work please! ;-).

  26. APACHEWHOKNOWS says:

    Here on earth the “bright star” is the energy of the developed countries with liberty, the dark hole that wants to shread U.S. all and those others of liberty ,= “Black Hole #1- AGW” .

  27. @tallbloke

    What part of the discovery by NASA seems like a plot for a sci fi movie?
    You have peaked my curiosity.

  28. Stephen Garland says:

    How long ago did this happen? Something less than 4 billion years ago I persume (if the earth is moving away from it).

  29. Michael Larkin says:

    From Wikpedia:

    “While there was initially some controversy over the nature of these objects—as recently as the early 1980s, there was no clear consensus as to their nature—there is now a scientific consensus that a quasar is a compact region in the center of a massive galaxy surrounding its central supermassive black hole. Its size is 10–10,000 times the Schwarzschild radius of the black hole. The quasar is powered by an accretion disc around the black hole.”

    Ah well, if there’s a consensus, it must be right, and we can ignore Arp’s photos of quasars apparently physically connected to low-redshift galaxies. So much more fun to indulge in metaphysics, after all.

  30. CodeTech says:

    Pfft… here we were, stranded 3.8 billion light years away with our time machine broken, and when we finally managed to push the star INto the black hole to send a beacon to Earth for help, what happens?
    “Oh, it’s nothing really, just an anomaly that will never repeat”.

    Sigh. Good thing a passing Asgard ship gave us a ride home…

  31. Luther Bl. says:

    Oh dear. So “may” is unacceptable in news stories about climate, but ok in news stories about space. Are the Electric Universe people even more feared here than the warmenistas?

  32. Craig Goodrich says:

    “One wonders if there were any planets around that star and if they may have contained life.”

    Well, if there were and it did, the life went extinct four billion years ago, so it’s a little late to worry about it. Unless, of course, the very stringy physicist Luboš comes over and tells us that the whole idea of simultaneity is nonsense, so it actually DID just happen.

  33. orkneylad says:

    Black holes, well I have never accepted the argument…….it’s pure big-bang pixie-dust.
    NASA tells us ‘the universe is flat’, just like an A4 sheet…….if that isn’t ‘flat earth thinking’ I don’t know what is!

  34. Tenuc says:

    “A bright flash of gamma rays observed March 28 by the Swift satellite may have been the death rattle of a star falling into a massive black hole…

    2 + 2 = 7

  35. John Silver says:

    Please Anthony, they are just making stuff up.
    There are no black holes or dark whatevers, it’s fiction to cover the big bang theory.
    Models, not observation.

  36. Stephen Brown says:

    “ClimateForAll says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm
    @tallbloke
    What part of the discovery by NASA seems like a plot for a sci fi movie?
    You have peaked my curiosity.”
    “Piqued”, surely?

  37. Tom_R says:

    >> Robert says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:21 pm
    Jim G says:
    June 17, 2011 at 11:11 am

    So, how does a black hole “grow” since time stops at the singularity, it would seem that nothing could ever add to that singulariity and would take a semi-infinite amount of time to even approach it?

    That’s is only what the observer outside a black hole sees, Its all about the frame of reference. <<

    Jim G has a good question. If a black hole starts at the center of a galaxy, an outside observer could never see (see == observe in some way) it grow, yet we outside observers see supermassive black holes that presumably contain the mass of all of the stars swallowed up since it was first created.

    Apparently, while we can never see matter cross the event horizon of a black hole, we can see the black hole event horizon expand as mass is added … even though the mass hasn't crossed into the black hole yet according to our observations.

    I think I'll go have that drink now …

  38. PhilJourdan says:

    ClimateForAll says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm
    @tallbloke

    What part of the discovery by NASA seems like a plot for a sci fi movie?
    You have peaked my curiosity.

    I cannot speak for Tallbloke, but the one that came to mind when I read the article elsewhere was “The Doomsday machine”. It is about a giant cigar that eats planets.

  39. jim hogg says:

    “dougsherman says:
    June 17, 2011 at 10:25 am
    “… we predict it will never happen again in this galaxy.”

    Now I have to question every other conclusion this guy has made”.

    And like Reason and all the others, my thoughts exactly . . . .

  40. Mark Wilson says:

    “ClimateForAll says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm
    @tallbloke
    What part of the discovery by NASA seems like a plot for a sci fi movie?
    You have peaked my curiosity.”
    “Piqued”, surely?

    I thought he was saying that his curiousity reached a high value, and then came down.

  41. Mark Wilson says:

    So, how does a black hole “grow” since time stops at the singularity, it would seem that nothing could ever add to that singulariity and would take a semi-infinite amount of time to even approach it?

    Time slows for the object, it doesn’t slow for the observer.
    For a simpler example, think of a space ship traveling at 0.9C. For us obsevers, we see this ship taking 11 years to travel 10 light years. For those on the ship, a shorter period of time elapses, say only 5 years.

    For an object falling into a black hole, assuming we could see that object after it passed the event horizon, we would see an object that continued to follow Newton’s laws all the way until it hit the singularity. What happens after that, nobody knows.

  42. Mark Wilson says:

    Apparently, while we can never see matter cross the event horizon of a black hole, we can see the black hole event horizon expand as mass is added … even though the mass hasn’t crossed into the black hole yet according to our observations.

    An object that has crossed the event horizon, even though it has not yet reached the singularity, still adds to the total mass within the event horizon. Until it actually reaches the singularity, it would probably cause a small bulge in the event horizon closest to the object.

    From a distance far enough away, the Earth and the Moon can be thought of as a single point gravitationally. That is, the distance between the two objects, is small compared to the distance between the two objects and the observer.

  43. Mike McMillan says:

    PaulH says: June 17, 2011 at 10:17 am
    Can we add voracious black holes to the list of catastrophes caused by global warming?

    Not yet. No climate models have so far turned up any evidence of that happening. Let’s wait until all the evidence is in.

    The infalling star wouldn’t have any life, as the radiation environment around a black hole is intense. I doubt there is any life in the center of our own galaxy for the same reason.

  44. PHager says:

    Ray (June 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm)
    LIGO wasn’t a waste of money. While it may not have detected gravity waves (they may have and have not published yet), it most likely proved that the detector design didn’t work or Einstein was wrong. Pick one or all of the above.

  45. Malaga View says:

    as the black hole rips the star apart, the mass swirls around like water going down a drain

    These guys sure have fertile imaginations….
    The only thing I can see going down a drain is credibility, respect, opportunity, science and money…

  46. Wayne Ward (truthsword) says:

    May…. It may have been… That “may” in the first sentence always makes me pass over the article as it is an indication of an idea (or theory) rather than any factual information.

  47. Wil says:

    Re: “a galactic collision such as is expected between the Milky Way and Andromeda in a few billion years.” Now I’m in my area – in actuality the Andromeda and Milky Way will run THROUGH each other a number of times resulting in using up most of the gas in both galaxies in star-bursts formations. Moreover, many stars will be thrown off in space and a small probability our solar system will actually join with the Andromeda Galaxy on one of its passes before both galaxies settle down into one giant elliptical galaxy. That is after the black holes in both galaxies find each other and gravitate to the center of the new galaxy no doubt firing up the much larger black hole. Others black holes within both systems? It’s gonna be real interesting – However, we’ll have to get off this rock before that event IF we’re still around and not wiped off this planet by Venus style Global Warming as the IPCC would have us believe.

  48. nemesis says:

    Totally off topic

    http://www.jonfr.com/volcano/

    Katla looks to be waking up!!!

  49. Mark.R says:

    All this happen 4 billion years ago. It’s taken 4 billion years for the light to get to earth.

  50. Kip Hansen says:

    ClimateForAll: I suspect that tallbloke is referring to something similar my reaction –> these astronomers and astro-physicists always speak as if these objects — quasars, black holes, etc — were actual real things that we have ‘personal’ knowledge of. They are, of course,more correctly theoretical explanations for phenomena that we can sense from Earth, either directly with optical telescopes, or now more often, with our vast array of earth and space based sensors. When astronomers see phenomena X together with Y, they develop a theory as to what in heaven (pardon please) it might be. When enough of them agree that the theory sounds right, is really cool, pleases their egos, or whatever, they then decide they have proven it to be so, and give it a name. Sometimes they even predict other phenomena that would support their theory and look for and sometimes find it, adding some substance to the otherwise merely hypothesized object.

    In the 1700’s European scientists would sit around in their royal societies and discuss sea monsters, cyclopes, and give learned explanations for beasts that we now know are mythical or give lectures denying the existence of things we now know to be real. I’m not all that sure that astro-physicists haven’t fallen into the same intellectual trap.

  51. Robert of Ottawa says:

    Interesting … I hve always this question: How can a bllack hole increace in mass? Yes, objectively it will increase in internal mass when more matter falls into it, but how does that internal mass increase get conveyed outward across the event horizon. Supposedly, nothing can

  52. Helen Armstrong says:

    “One wonders if there were any planets around that star and if they may have contained life.”

    Where is that dam’d TARDIS when you want one?

    If a black hole sucks in planets and other matter, does it ever get to the point where it is full and vomits them all out again in a big bang?

  53. Robert of Ottawa says:

    I imagine a black hole as being an astronomical quantumn mechanical blob, like a neutron, let’s say. All the mass of the black hole is, effectively, at zero energy, which means that its de Broglie wave length is huge. Surely, when the mass of the black hole is large enough that its de Broglie wavelength exceeds the diameter of the black hole (event horizon), then it becomes unstable with a finite probability of unbecoming a black hole; think radioactivity as a qualitative comparison.

  54. Robert of Ottawa says:

    Think GigaBoom!

  55. Curiousgeorge says:

    Personally, I wish the term “black hole” had never been coined. It is deceiving at best.

  56. peterhodges says:

    PHager says:
    June 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm
    LIGO wasn’t a waste of money. …it most likely proved that the detector design didn’t work or Einstein was wrong. Pick one or all of the above.

    LOL

  57. Jenn Oates says:

    Awesome. I’ll be teaching this topic again middle of September, so I really love news like this.

    Oh, and Go Bears! :)

  58. H.R. says:

    As the old saying goes…

    “When you find yourself in a black hole, stop digging.”

  59. charles nelson says:

    So clearly ‘black holes’ ain’t as black or as ‘holey’ as we’ve been led to believe.
    We thought that nothing could escape their gravitational pull…not even light…that’s why they’re black you see.
    Hang about, this one, as it engulfed a star gave off a ‘flash’ gamma rays…how did that happen?
    Can we now accurately describe Black Holes as Gamma Ray emitters?
    Answer…we really have no idea, but we pay people to be creative and speculate on our behalf…sound familiar?

  60. RoHa says:

    So the lesson for us non-technical types here is “Don’t get to close to black holes”?

  61. Blade says:

    Nitpick alert.

    “The astronomers suspect that the gamma-ray emissions began March 24 or 25 in the uncatalogued galaxy at a redshift of 0.3534, putting it at a distance of about 3.8 billion light years. Bloom and his colleagues estimate that the emissions will fade over the next year.”

    More accurate reporting would involve inserting a few words …

    “The astronomers suspect that the gamma-ray emissions began [arriving at Earth] March 24 or 25 [from] the uncatalogued galaxy at a redshift of 0.3534, putting it at a distance of about 3.8 billion light years. Bloom and his colleagues estimate that the emissions [now just arriving at Earth] will fade over the next year.”

    This thing actually occurred a billion years or so after the Earth was formed according to our current understanding of vast distances.

  62. Chris says:

    “One wonders if there were any planets around that star and if they may have contained life.”

    I’m guessing that gravitational disruption by, and X-ray emissions from, the black hole, trashed any planets around that star a long time before the star actually fell into the black hole.

    Unless the star was on a direct collision course with the black hole, it would have been orbiting it for a long, long time.

    “So clearly ‘black holes’ ain’t as black or as ‘holey’ as we’ve been led to believe.”

    Black holes do evaporate, given enough time. But even before that, matter falling into the hole becomes superheated and gives off X-rays (and apparently Gamma rays) before it reaches the event horizon.

  63. Brian Hall says:

    charles n.;
    I’m no Black-Holista, but your comments are nonsense. It’s an accretion ring swirling around the outside of the BH that perportedly throws off energy and radiation, etc.

  64. Charlie Foxtrot says:

    The gravitation in a black hole is beyond imagination. I read somewhere that, as an object falls into one, the differential gravity between molecules is so great they will be torn apart. So, rather than being stretched, a body would be disintegrated into it’s molecular components. Now that’s some gravity.

    Someone asked, how can you see one to know it’s there? Although black holes can’t be seen directly, their presence can be detected by the lens effect of their gravitational field as it bends light around it.

    Can someone explain how a black hole is destroyed? I understand they will eventually explode, but how is the energy released from the gravitational pull?

  65. Luther Wu says:

    Luther Bl. says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Oh dear. So “may” is unacceptable in news stories about climate, but ok in news stories about space. Are the Electric Universe people even more feared here than the warmenistas?
    ______________________

    Ming!
    Is that you?

  66. kuhnkat says:

    More of that Pierre RayHumbert type of imagination. If you can’t think of anything else that could have caused it, why, it MUST be what you guessed it was based on your models which are based on previous giants in physics math, though somewhat tortured it may be.

  67. kuhnkat says:

    Charlie Foxtrot,

    you know of nothing else in the whole universe that can bend light? Just a theoretical black hole?? (snicker)

  68. PJA Simoes says:

    There’s no reason to start picking on every science report that contains the words “may”, “might”, “could be” and similars. That’s how science works. Those guys reported an unusual observation and proposed an explanation for it. If a better explanation comes later, even better. Granted, the guy’s “predictions” are a pure guessing game (or maybe he has some computer models for it…?), but that’s not their results.

    But anyway, it would be a magnificent sight, watching a entire star being torn apart by a black hole.

  69. mark h says:

    Deathstar planet killer.There is life out there and it is as we know it.

  70. P Wilson says:

    PaulH says:
    June 17, 2011 at 10:17 am
    Can we add voracious black holes to the list of catastrophes caused by global warming? ;->

    We could I suppose – only this event happened some 4 billion years ago. *left wondering what the current state of affairs is in real time. Guess we’ll know in another 4 billion years

  71. Dizzy Ringo says:

    But in the midst of all this erudite – well most of it – discussion, noone has answered the most obvious question. If a large star falls into a black hole, where does it go?

  72. “I love the term “flash”. I guess in astronomical scales, it was a flash (but then what is a normal burst like?). A fascinating finding, and due to its relative longevity, was a good one to study.”
    Gamma ray bursts were discovered when both sides in the cold war set up a system for detecting nuclear tests.
    It was found that events which were of extra-galactic origin occured at the rate of a few per month.
    The energy involved in any such event is truely astronomical.
    I quote from memory the essence of an article that I read in the French revue journal “La Recherche” “Whereas a star like our sun will shine for about 10 billion years and will in that time convert about five percent of its original mass into energy, the collapse of a star responsible for a gamma ray burst will have converted about forty percent of its mass into energy in about ten minutes!”.
    I have to say that whereas the mechanism which involved actual, as apposed to the normal virtual, polarisation of the vacuum was invoked, I could not see how the forty percent of matter anhiilation was achieved. But if we ever find ourselves in the direct line of fire of one of these events the earth will roast like a chicken on a spit!

  73. Tom in Florida says:

    Luther Bl. says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm
    “Oh dear. So “may” is unacceptable in news stories about climate, but ok in news stories about space. Are the Electric Universe people even more feared here than the warmenistas?”

    The HUGE difference is that no one researching space issues is trying to bankrupt the world mitigating things that “may” happen.

  74. Tom in Florida says:

    Kelvin Vaughan says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm
    “The bad news is that the red shift was caused by the black hole and it’s only a stones throw away.”

    So wouldn’t a gamma ray burst pointed at us only “a stone’s throw away” affect us in a bad way?

  75. hunter says:

    Would that one star’s destruction sterilized the entire galaxy? If not, how big an area would be impacted?
    It must be vast.

  76. Smokey says:

    hunter,

    Almost all the energy is directed in a thin line emanating from the accretion disk, as the article explains. The reason we can see it so clearly is because the earth is in a direct line of sight of that energy. If the disk had been tilted even slightly away from the earth, it wouldn’t be called a blazar.

  77. Jim G says:

    How does a black hole grow?

    The answer is that NO ONE KNOWS if or how what goes on inside of a black hole, as no information can come out of same, by definition, if one excludes Hawking radiation which is theoretical particle based physics, and not observed to my knowledge. This is not science fiction and does not have anything really to do with the big bang but the nature of space-time as defined by Eistein’s relativity. Time does slow down in the presence of gravity, and has actually been tested and observed in high altitude situations with atomic clocks. Theoretically the event horrizon will grow as mass enters but again no one knows. Space time theoretically ceases to exist at a singularity due the gravity squashing it out of existence so to speak, making frame of reference of little consequece. Not that there may not be a deeper physical world yet to be defined, beyond relativity, at higher energy levels, which is presently postulated but not proven. In the mean time relativity has passed all the observational tests thrown at it and is much more an observationally proven science than climate “science” which is much more “science fiction” particulary as practiced today.

    I posed this question in the event there was some new theory out there of which one of our astute posters might be aware. Since in particle physics there is some notion that observation can actually cause a wave function to collapse, one might consider if similar events might occur relative to space time in a black hole with the consciousness of an aware being having an effect upon space-time. Perhaps all the material world is but a figment of our consciousness which would not exist without our being here to observe it.

  78. Jim G says:

    Fixed my spelling.

    How does a black hole grow?
    The answer is that NO ONE KNOWS if or how what goes on inside of a black hole, as no information can come out of same, by definition, if one excludes Hawking radiation which is theoretical particle based physics, and not observed to my knowledge. This is not science fiction and does not have anything really to do with the big bang but the nature of space-time as defined by Einstein’s relativity. Time does slow down in the presence of gravity, and has actually been tested and observed in high altitude situations with atomic clocks. Theoretically the event horizon will grow as mass enters but again no one knows. Space time theoretically ceases to exist at a singularity due the gravity squashing it out of existence so to speak, making frame of reference of little consequence. Not that there may not be a deeper physical world yet to be defined, beyond relativity, at higher energy levels, which is presently postulated but not proven. In the mean time relativity has passed all the observational tests thrown at it and is much more an observationally proven science than climate “science” which is much more “science fiction” particularly as practiced today.
    I posed this question in the event there was some new theory out there of which one of our astute posters might be aware. Since in particle physics there is some notion that observation can actually cause a wave function to collapse, one might consider if similar events might occur relative to space time in a black hole with the consciousness of an aware being having an effect upon space-time. Perhaps all the material world is but a figment of our consciousness which would not exist without our being here to observe it.

  79. Mac the Knife says:

    Wil says:
    June 17, 2011 at 3:51 pm
    “Re: “a galactic collision such as is expected between the Milky Way and Andromeda in a few billion years.” Now I’m in my area – in actuality the Andromeda and Milky Way will run THROUGH each other a number of times”

    Hi Wil!
    You have a very large comfort zone (“Now I’m in my area….”)! };>)
    You’ve stirred my thoughts… and recollections of some sci-fi novels I’ve read (ex: “Sailing Bright Eternity” – Gregory Benford). Can you offer your perspectives on the following?

    Assuming both Andromeda and Milky Way have massive black holes at their centers when they ‘collide’, what happens when 2 massive black holes orbit, spiral in, and their individual event horizons intersect?
    Matter ‘caught’ between the approaching event horizons could locate in a stable ‘LaGrange’ point?
    The LaGrange would be stable locally but with increasingly steep gravitational gradients adjacent to the LaGrange?
    Infalling matter in either black hole could cause gravitational ‘tides’ at the LaGrange points?
    Local reference frame in the LaGrange point VS a galactic external reference frame means extreme time dilation for the LaGrange residents?
    Would there be a narrow, low gravitational path into and out of the LaGrange point, provided it was not already inside either event horizon?
    No escape possible, if the LaGrange point becomes enveloped by either event horizon… or the combined event horizon of both?
    What shape would the combined event horizon have, as the 2 event horizons intersected? Would it look like 2 obs slowly merging, a slowly collapsing ‘figure eight’ ( 8 )?
    Would we see regular cyclic flashes of gamma ray bursts, matching the orbital period of the circling black holes, as the individual event horizons approached and merged ?

    Any conjectures on your part would be appreciated! Thanks!

  80. Jim Butts says:

    I have long pondered over Jim G’s question. No observer could have ever observed matter crossing the event horizon since clocks run slowly near and come to a complete stop at the event horizon. Thus all black holes must have been fully formed at time zero, at the beginning of the big bang, since their masses are fixed for all time afterward.

    What do you think?

  81. albertkallal says:

    As a few others here have noted, this black hole thing is pretty speculative, and is not really even supported scientifically at best.

    As a few said as you get so close to the thing, supposedly the gravity so great that no light can escape it, well that’s fine and dandy. However, let’s get far enough away from it so we reach the point where light passing by does escape. This being the case we would see tons of multiple reflections (images) of the stars and other objects from all around that area being bent towards our point of view. It should produce a effect much like a glass ball bending light. So this supposedly such huge gravitational ability exists without any bending of light then? I mean as you move away from such a large gravity then there should be ample amounts of places and objects far enough away from a black hole in which we see light passing by and being bent.

    I mean, such great force to swallow light is going to do a heck of a lot of bending just outside of that supposed area in which light cannot pass by. The more one reasons this out the more how absolutely absurd and ridiculous becomes this black hole idea. Like CAGW, the more it repeated, the more the stupid science community goes along with this garbage.

  82. Curiousgeorge says:

    What exists on the “other side” of a black hole? Or for that matter, given what we think we know at present about the universe – that it is finite – what lies beyond the edge? Something to ponder that has been stated before: “In the absence of Reality, Probability rules”. Since “Reality” is the observable universe (as far as we can discern), then logically what lies beyond must be Probability. Not the Probability of baseball statistics, or Bayes, but rather a Cosmic Probability.

  83. Robert of Ottawa says:

    I think the postulated collision of our galaxy with Andromeda would not be so disasterous; the two galaxies would, effectively, pass through each other, certainly causing distortions of the classic disc, but actual stellar collisions would be rare (I believe).

  84. Malcolm Miller says:

    Your headline implies that the hypothesis of a group of astrophysicists is a ‘fact’. This is exactly the kind of thing the MSM does with some of the climate nonsense hypotheses they report – simply sensationalism. I am disappointed that this kind of thing appears here on a site I have always respected.

  85. Let me dissect what this article has presented.
    1. Black holes.
    2. Red Shifts.
    3. Galaxies present other than our own.
    4. Star destroyed by its close proximity to a black hole.
    5. Ability to view the event.

    There are those that agree with some or most of these statements, while others disagree with these statements, and some that don’t know where they stand on these issues.

    I trust in facts.

    And facts support these events.

    Just like CAGW is nothing more than a theory, those that would call this event ‘sci-fi’, do so because of some theory, that denies these facts.

    And last I checked, that theory isn’t really working out all that well.

  86. Malaga View says:

    Malcolm Miller:
    I am disappointed that this kind of thing appears here on a site I have always respected.

    Relax…
    The June 16th Berkeley article is only a re-run of the NASA 7th April press release…
    So good news really does travel fast – NOT…
    And besides NASA press releases are always good for a belly laugh…
    I think Anthony meant to tag this thing as another Friday Funny.

    For more information please read the Daily Telegraph article:
    Dan Dare: Where Dan dares, boffins follow

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3672893/Dan-Dare-Where-Dan-dares-boffins-follow.html

    or visit the BBC Comics Britannia gallery:

  87. philw1776 says:

    I am disappointed at the level of cynicism based on ignorance expressed towards this astrophysics article. The damage that AGW proponents have done towards the public’s attitude to real physics and science is huge. AGW folks hide their modeling code and data, most other sciences do not (maybe biochemists are circumspect because of patent $ competition; I’m not sure).

    Most readers here are too young to have lived through the debates in the 60s over Big Bang vs Steady State universe. The issue was resolved when actual data from observations revealed to anyone doing the observations that the BB theory was the better, more accurate description for the universe we observe. That’s how science works. State a hypothethis and then look for experimental data that can falsify it. The Steady State got falsified. Bigtime. So we’re left with the BB as the best explanation of the universe that we have to date. Time has not ended and further resuts wil give us a more accurate description.

  88. lars says:

    Black Holes are a complete fiction, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BLACK HOLE,
    THEY DO NOT EXIST IN REALITY ! They are a complete mathematical fiction and do not exist in the real world.

  89. NovaReason says:

    I know a lot of people are in a big huff about the word “may” appearing in a scientific article, but I (for one) am not completely insulted by someone using words that show some degree of uncertainty provided that the author of the paper isn’t asking me to change my lifestyle dramatically back to a stone age existence, or send all of my money to a huge international organization with no real oversight… yeah, theoretical physicists can say may, because they’re articles aren’t being strewn with recriminations against humanity, and dire warnings if we don’t do what they say… after that “may”.

  90. Malaga View says:

    philw1776 says: The damage that AGW proponents have done towards the public’s attitude to real physics and science is huge.

    The CAGW Settled Science has proved to be a step too far for Post-Normal Science.
    The Climategate emails has proved to be where the Peer Review Cabal finally met their Waterloo.
    The Blogsphere is driving the nails into the coffin of Post-Normal Propaganda.
    The IPCC is killing the goose that lays the golden egg for Post-Normal NGOs.

    RIP Post-Normal Science.

  91. beng says:

    ****
    lars says:
    June 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Black Holes are a complete fiction, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BLACK HOLE,
    THEY DO NOT EXIST IN REALITY ! They are a complete mathematical fiction and do not exist in the real world.

    *****

    Huh??? So what has the gravity of 4 million solar masses in the center of the Milky Way, but is optically invisible (but shows periodic X-ray bursts)? Stars rapidly & closely orbiting it (of mere solar mass) are clearly visible in the photos. Something 4 million times the mass of a star can hide there, but very close, single solar-mass stars can’t???

    I don’t expect a cognitive response.

  92. tallbloke says:

    beng says:
    June 19, 2011 at 7:30 am (Edit)
    ****
    lars says:
    June 18, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Black Holes are a complete fiction, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A BLACK HOLE,
    THEY DO NOT EXIST IN REALITY ! They are a complete mathematical fiction and do not exist in the real world.
    *****

    Huh??? So what has the gravity of 4 million solar masses in the center of the Milky Way, but is optically invisible (but shows periodic X-ray bursts)? Stars rapidly & closely orbiting it (of mere solar mass) are clearly visible in the photos. Something 4 million times the mass of a star can hide there, but very close, single solar-mass stars can’t???

    I don’t expect a cognitive response.

    Have you got some links to these photos?

  93. tallbloke says:

    Kip Hansen says:
    June 17, 2011 at 4:38 pm
    ClimateForAll: I suspect that tallbloke is referring to something similar my reaction –> these astronomers and astro-physicists always speak as if these objects — quasars, black holes, etc — were actual real things that we have ‘personal’ knowledge of.

    ……

    In the 1700′s European scientists would sit around in their royal societies and discuss sea monsters, cyclopes, and give learned explanations for beasts that we now know are mythical or give lectures denying the existence of things we now know to be real. I’m not all that sure that astro-physicists haven’t fallen into the same intellectual trap.

    Spot on Kip. Black holes are the logical consequence of an illogical gravity only theory of cosmos. I don’t go along with everything the E.U. folks hypothesise, but they got that right I think.

    PhilJourdan says:
    June 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm
    ClimateForAll says:
    June 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm
    @tallbloke

    What part of the discovery by NASA seems like a plot for a sci fi movie?
    You have peaked my curiosity.

    I cannot speak for Tallbloke, but the one that came to mind when I read the article elsewhere was “The Doomsday machine”. It is about a giant cigar that eats planets.

    “”I read of one planet off in the seventh dimension that got used as a ball in a game of intergallactic bar billiards. Got potted straight into a black hole, killed ten billion people.”
    – Douglas Adams -

  94. albertkallal says:


    The Steady State got falsified. Bigtime. So we’re left with the BB as the best explanation of the universe that we have to date

    Well, it only something that had to be cooked up real quick and sold since the steady state could not stand up to scrutiny. If I walk into a room and observe a light candle, I can be quite assured that the candle could not have been burning forever since it has a limited fuel supply and is burning out.

    And with the understanding of stars being tanks of fuel burning up their fuel via fusion, it becomes quite clear those stars could not have been there forever and thus no steady state universe. Remember, the science and observations can only be analyzed with our intellects and the correct use of reason (philosophy).

    There is no science experiment that proves 2 = 2, but only our ability to determine self-evident truths. All math proofs rely on this concept of self-evident truths. So, if you do not have correct reason (philosophy), then you cannot have science and you will not be able to make heads or tails of anything you observe since you cannot apply CORRECT reason and logic to conclude anything of value from those observations.

    When we apply reason and logic to BB theory, then we find BB fails to address entropy. BB fails to address how water (or energy) can flow up hill. Those stars (or even water) have energy that is flowing downhill. Rocks, water, or suns cannot reverse this process of using up their energy. In fact there are ZERO observations in nature to support that energy turns into matter.

    Things get even worse for BB when you ask what was that blob of matter doing 50, or 100 years before it decided to go bang? I mean, really, some sleeping singularity was sitting there, and “one day” decided to wake up? What caused that silly thing to wake up all of a sudden? I mean, was it sitting there for billions of years? Then “all of” a sudden it decides to wake up? The problem here is BB attempts to throw cause under the rug. We are now to believe that something is supposed to occur without a cause! (too funny!)

    In effect, we are being asked to believe that a rock can move itself. Objects, such as rocks or anything cannot move themselves; there has to be something else that causes something to move. Objects cannot and do not move themselves, yet BB asks us to accept this clear contradiction in truth. Or BB simply desires to ignore that something is able to move without a cause for that movement.

    So while I can agree that BB theory is better than steady state, both theories cannot stand up to logic and reason. BB really is a Hodge podge of poorly put together ideas that when held under scrutiny of reason becomes full of holes like Swiss cheese.

  95. I have not entered here, because of the low level of scientific literacy display by the commenters. God help us if this is the level of that part of the general public who claim they know anything about science..

  96. u.k.(us) says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    June 19, 2011 at 1:30 pm
    I have not entered here, because of the low level of scientific literacy display by the commenters. God help us if this is the level of that part of the general public who claim they know anything about science..
    ============
    LOL, but how can you say that when even the “experts” are only guessing!

  97. u.k.(us) says:
    June 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm
    LOL, but how can you say that when even the “experts” are only guessing!
    The ‘experts’ are not guessing when it comes to BB, general relativity, black holes. All this is precision science.

  98. u.k.(us) says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    June 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    “The ‘experts’ are not guessing when it comes to BB, general relativity, black holes. All this is precision science.”
    =======
    Thanks Leif, I just thought your comment was funny.
    I was referring to the gamma ray “flash”, when I called them guesses.
    What happens when black holes combine ?

  99. malagaview says:

    The ‘experts’ are not guessing when it comes to BB, general relativity, black holes.
    All this is precision science.

    I love precision pantomimes:

    Dick Whittington: The universe is going to spontaneously explode in a Big Bang.

    Audience: Oh No It Isn’t.

    Dick Whittington: Perhaps I can save the universe if I become Lord Mayor.

    Audience: Oh No You Can’t.

    Dick Whittington: Oh Yes I can! With my dark matter black cat.

    Audience: Oh No You Can’t.

    Dick Whittington: By the way – have you seen my dark matter black cat?

    Audience: He’s behind you!

    Dick Whittington: Oh No he’s not.

    Audience: Oh Yes he is.

    Dick Whittington: Oh No he’s not. That’s a black hole behind me.

    Audience: Oh No It Isn’t.

    Dick Whittington: Oh Yes it is. I can prove it! So there!

    Audience: Oh No You Can’t.

    Dick Whittington: Oh Yes I can. It says so here in this peer reviewed article.

    Black Cat: Oh no you can’t. I am just an actor dressed up as a black cat.

    Close curtains

  100. malagaview says:

    The ‘experts’ are not guessing when it comes to BB, general relativity, black holes.
    All this is precision science.

    BIG BANG THEORY FOR DUMMIES
    01) Forget about all the events that happened in your past.
    02) Forget about all the things that existed in your past.
    03) Close you eyes.
    04) Think about absolutely nothing… and I mean nothing.
    05) Now I will shine a high powered torch into your face.
    06) Now open your eyes and see the big flash of light from my torch.
    07) That flash of light was the Big Bang.
    08) Now discover lots of new things as if you were a child again.
    09) Now discover lots of new events as if you were a child again.
    10) Now live happily ever after on the royalties from your discoveries.

    ADVERT

    BIG BANG SILLY MARBLE
    Yes kids its hard to believe BUT the precision made Silly Marble in this plastic pot will spontaneously explode in 10 billions years time*. Whats more this is not some firework cracker explosion.. this is the big one… the BIG BANG.. and what is really amazing about this SILLY MARBLE is that it will not destroy anything… absolutely nothing… so this is perfectly safe as nobody can get hurt and nothing can be damaged… and what is even more amazing is that this SILLY MARBLE will create a whole new universe for you to play with after the BIG BANG arrives… its amazing… but its true: your very own universe!

    Buy your SILLY MARBLE BIG BANG special edition for only five bucks while stocks last.

    * Plus or minus 10 billion years

  101. u.k.(us) says:

    malagaview says:
    June 19, 2011 at 5:22 pm
    ======
    So, have you anything to say?
    I’m waiting.

  102. u.k.(us) says:
    June 19, 2011 at 3:34 pm
    Thanks Leif, I just thought your comment was funny.
    I was referring to the gamma ray “flash”, when I called them guesses.
    What happens when black holes combine ?

    The flashes last from 0.3 seconds to 30 seconds, so on a cosmic scale can surely be called flashes.
    When black holes combine you get a bigger one, and a lot of gravitational waves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVgPplOgB1g

  103. RandomReal[] says:

    tallbloke asks:

    Have you got some links to these photos?

    Both the Keck and European Southern Observatories have been taking pictures of the galactic center for about 15 years. It has only been recently (mid-90s) with the development of ground based near-infared telescopes that astronomers have been able to peer beyond the intervening dust and gas to observe stars in the Milky Way galactic center. These two independent (and extremely competitive) teams have come to the same conclusion from the observation of the orbit of stars around an object that emits very little light, except as beng said, an occasional x-ray emission.

    There are several movies out there, one from Keck is:

    The scientific papers, data, etc., can be found at both the Keck and ESO websites. It should be noted that one need not use Einstein’s General Theory to derive the mass of the invisible partner, Newton’s will do just fine. Indeed, they have tracked the complete orbit of one star, SO-2, that comes within 90 astronomical units of the black hole (90 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun). To put this in perspective, that distance is about 2 X the orbital radius of Pluto, or about 12 light-hours.

    Now pack 4 million solar masses within the size of the solar system and ask what could exits there that emits very little light in the vis-IR range? Certainly not normal stars, since they would be detectable, and we can see at least a dozen orbiting the object (an excellent internal control). To not be a black hole, 4 million solar masses of matter have to be present in a object whose radius is large enough that the escape velocity from the surface is smaller than the speed of light.

    What kind of matter could such an object be made of? Can’t be a neutron star since the upper limit is ~10 solar masses IIRC.

    So we have an object that is 400,000 times the mass of the largest neutron star. Once you get a denser object, where the escape velocity is greater than the speed of light, it really doesn’t matter what it’s made of: it’s a black hole.

    Although black holes seem esoteric and theoretical (though no more so than say an electron), study of these objects have surprisingly shed light on subjects much closer to home in condensed matter physics.

    If one would really like to learn more about, black holes, the big bang and other modern physics, you cannot do better than the series of lectures by Stanford’s Lenny Susskind. He has lectures that cover everything from classical mechanics to cosmology — an amazing gift to us all. They are not as in depth as a normal graduate course, but they are sufficiently rigorous for a jumping off point into reading and digesting the primary literature.

    Not enough math background? The web has several excellent lecture series from MIT and others. One piece of advice for those without a math background, don’t try to learn all of the math at once. Rather, when you encounter something new, go find the lectures that deal with that part of mathematics and play with the problems. Then return to Susskind’s lectures and apply what you have just learned. The Systems Biology program at Princeton uses this technique, calling it just in time math. One is introduced to a particular area in their math course and soon thereafter are applying what they have learned in their physics, chemistry and biology courses.

    philw1776 says:
    June 18, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    I am disappointed at the level of cynicism based on ignorance expressed towards this astrophysics article. The damage that AGW proponents have done towards the public’s attitude to real physics and science is huge.

    I completely concur.

  104. RandomReal[] says:
    June 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm
    philw1776 says:
    June 18, 2011 at 6:17 pm
    “I am disappointed at the level of cynicism based on ignorance expressed towards this astrophysics article. The damage that AGW proponents have done towards the public’s attitude to real physics and science is huge.”
    I completely concur.

    I think that it is not only AGW that is to blame. There is a general upswing in pseudo-science, astrology, etc. What Carl Sagan called “our demon-haunted world”. Just reading most of the comments here [and on many other topics] can be a depressing experience. And not only on this blog. The problem is everywhere.

  105. Malaga View says:

    There is a general upswing in pseudo-science

    Totally agree… there has been a general upswing in Post-Normal Science.

  106. beng says:

    *****
    RandomReal[] says:
    June 19, 2011 at 9:28 pm
    *****

    Thanks for responding, Random. Good info. Detecting a black hole in our galaxy’s center (& other galaxies, too) is a landmark discovery, only to be ignorantly dismissed by some. Oh well….

    And I’m w/Leif, it’s frustrating dealing w/some posters on many subjects, not just astronomy (AWG, of course). Universe Today is a reasonably good astronomy site, but polluted w/”Electric Universe” posters — tho there are some excellent posters there too.

  107. Jim G says:

    Lief, Random, Beng. et al,

    Though I agree with you all re relativity and black holes, BB is still only one explanation of how it all started. The “higher energy level” theories such as FTL (faster than light) as well as the concept that phisical rules may be local in nature (see the info on the fine structure constant being different in different directions in space) may shed further light on our physical world and lead to a more precise theory than relativity that can include quantum physics. In any event both relativity and quantum physics are much more precise, observation based science than is climate science. I am surprised at some of the posts on this site and feel they may reflect what has happened to our educational system over the past 40 years as well as the pseudoscience being popularized by AGW.

  108. Jim G says:
    June 20, 2011 at 8:34 am
    The “higher energy level” theories such as FTL (faster than light) as well as the concept that phisical rules may be local in nature (see the info on the fine structure constant being different in different directions in space)
    Are still on the fringe of valid physics and do not have the detailed predictions and understanding the BB gives us, e.g. about the structure of the cosmic microwave background caused by the sound waves that originated in the big “Bang”, e.g. http://www.leif.org/EOS/CosmicSoundWaves.pdf

  109. Jim G says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:

    June 20, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Jim G says:
    June 20, 2011 at 8:34 am
    The “higher energy level” theories such as FTL (faster than light) as well as the concept that phisical rules may be local in nature (see the info on the fine structure constant being different in different directions in space)
    “Are still on the fringe of valid physics and do not have the detailed predictions and understanding the BB gives us, e.g. about the structure of the cosmic microwave background caused by the sound waves that originated in the big “Bang”, e.g. http://www.leif.org/EOS/CosmicSoundWaves.pdf

    True, but no one is claiming they are “the answer”, only that they clear up some of the inconsistencies in present theory, though they create some of their own. In particular the fine structure constant info is from observations from two different sources and is the type of data that causes real science to be done as it contradicts present beliefs that physical laws are the same everywhere. I have copied the sound wave link and will give it the time it deserves when I go over it.

  110. Jim G says:
    June 20, 2011 at 9:25 am
    True, but no one is claiming they are “the answer”, only that they clear up some of the inconsistencies in present theory
    And what would they be?
    In particular the fine structure constant info is from observations from two different sources and is the type of data that causes real science to be done as it contradicts present beliefs that physical laws are the same everywhere.
    These observations are not on firm ground and are not generally accepted as valid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-structure_constant#Is_the_fine_structure_constant_actually_constant.3F

  111. Jim G says:

    Lief, Random, Beng. et al,

    Though I agree with you all re relativity and black holes, BB is still only one explanation of how it all started. The “higher energy level” theories such as FTL (faster than light) as well as the concept that phisical rules may be local in nature (see thLeif Svalgaard says:
    June 20, 2011 at 10:31 am
    Jim G says:
    June 20, 2011 at 9:25 am
    True, but no one is claiming they are “the answer”, only that they clear up some of the inconsistencies in present theory
    And what would they be?
    In particular the fine structure constant info is from observations from two different sources and is the type of data that causes real science to be done as it contradicts present beliefs that physical laws are the same everywhere.

    “These observations are not on firm ground and are not generally accepted as valid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-structure_constant#Is_the_fine_structure_constant_actually_constant.3F

    Einstein’s relativity was likewise not accepted for several years, however, though these observations may as yet not be “on firm ground” they are observationally based and true science compared to all of the conjecture and computer models being sold as climate science today. And again, none of those involved are claiming they have the answer, only raising questions based upon most recent observations on the forefront of what is technologically possible with today’s equipment.

  112. Jim G says:
    June 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm
    Einstein’s relativity was likewise not accepted for several years, however, though these observations may as yet not be “on firm ground” they are observationally based and true science compared to all of the conjecture and computer models being sold as climate science today. And again, none of those involved are claiming they have the answer, only raising questions based upon most recent observations on the forefront of what is technologically possible with today’s equipment.
    I think you have missed about half a century’s worth of research. Today – with topnotch equipment – Einstein has passed every single test with flying colors and with ever increasing precision. There is not a single well-observed phenomenon that is in conflict with Einstein’s general relativity. Now, it is every scientist’s dream to prove Einstein wrong. None have succeeded, and there are no open questions. This is quite remarkable, but such is it.

  113. Jim G says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    ” I think you have missed about half a century’s worth of research. Today – with topnotch equipment – Einstein has passed every single test with flying colors and with ever increasing precision. There is not a single well-observed phenomenon that is in conflict with Einstein’s general relativity. Now, it is every scientist’s dream to prove Einstein wrong. None have succeeded, and there are no open questions. This is quite remarkable, but such is it.”

    You have obviuosly not read what I have written above. I am well aware of the track record of Einstien and the tests which have been done at various levels of statistical significance and that NONE prove him wrong, however, when he first published his findings were not accepted, as I also said above. The point is that since quantum physics and relativity have yet to be reconciled to one and other, scientists continue to attempt to reconcile them which may result in CHANGES or additions to either or both and these may be relevent at higher energy levels.

    The fine structure information is very interesting and leads people to think out of the box though I am also aware that it is not yet accepted by all.

    Why so confrontational?

    Jim G

  114. albertkallal says:


    Einstein has passed every single test with flying colors and with ever increasing precision. There is not a single well-observed phenomenon that is in conflict with Einstein’s general relativity.

    Actually, there all kinds of problems. For example, the claim of equivalence says that if you in a rocket ship accelerating (due to motion), you cannot tell the difference between that and acceleration due to gravity. (and we see all kinds of physics books show this experiment or some such elevator.

    In fact if you measure the force of gravity at you head and your toes (or the force on the object at the start and end of the test, then you can tell the difference between the two events. If the measured force is the same then acceleration is due to motion. If the acceleration is due to a gravitational field (gravity) then the force in the two locations will be different since you moving towards the gravitational center (and it gets STRONGER as you move closer). So, place a gravity meter on your toes, and one on your head, and you be able to tell if your weight is due to gravity or due to acceleration. It very simple logic to state that if the meters read different, then we talking about gravity.

    Einstein claims these two events are equivalent, and clearly I just demonstrated that they are not.

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