We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post for an Important Weather Update! Afterwards, please stay tuned for News From Space!
Holy Canole, Batman, talk about your Before (During) and After pictures!
It was one of those days where it was brightest in the morning and got darker as the day wore on and the clouds rolled in…
Once it started falling, it didn’t take long for it to lay down a white coating. Within a few hours:
It was winter again. Damn it. Kinda hoped it was all behind us now.
Earlier just this week I opened the windows for the first time and let the lovely spring air stream through the house. Now look at it:
Which means I get to go out and “play” in the snow again:
I guess it’s one way to get your exercise.
If April showers bring May flowers, what will this bring? Killer snowmen?
In completely unrelated news, we got our first “photo” of a black hole:
The effort involved producing this image is impressive.
Firstly, the image is from radio-frequency photons emitted from the region of that black hole. Specifically, radio light from the super-heated accretion ring.
(So, of course, the colors are false. Radio light has no “color” to speak of.)
Secondly, the image was created with VLBI using radio telescopes from all over the Earth. That creates a virtual radio-telescope of unprecedented resolution.
The image above represents a visual size of about 50 micro-arc-seconds! That’s 50-millionths of one-sixtieth of one-sixtieth of a degree. (There are 60 arc-minutes in a degree, and 60 arc-seconds in an arc-minute.)
Thirdly, each telescope gathered many petabytes of information per observation — carefully time-stamped data representing the waveforms measured by the instrument.
The data was so vast it couldn’t be sent over the internet. Instead, it was loaded on (many, many) hard drives and shipped to a central destination…
Fourthly, where powerful computers spent two years crunching data to reconstruct the image seen above. (The observations were all made in 2017.)
And now, for the first time, we have an image — a portrait is, I think, the best word for it — of an actual black hole.
Final proof they really do exist.
The portrait above is of the super black hole in the nearby galaxy M87.
That, alone, is impressive. It’s 55 million light years away.
And that particular black hole, with 6.5 billion solar masses, is the largest we know.
It’s huge and very active, which is why it was chosen. It turns out that, even at 55 million light years away, its visual size from Earth is roughly the same as that of the black hole in the center of our galaxy.
(Which the scientists also imaged although I can’t seem to find that image online right now.)
Kudos to all involved!
Now can we please get back to spring? A few days ago it was almost 70 degrees out. It hasn’t gotten above 35 today!
Stay warm, my friends!