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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Weighing Black Hole In A Spiral Galaxy Confirms: We Are Tiny

ALMA's at it again. I'm blown away, yet again.
Crunching the numbers, ALMA has weighed the mass of the supermassive black hole at the center of this spiral barred galaxy called "NGC 1097."
It's pretty awesome progress.  This is a combo image of the galaxy using multiple real photos of different light freq. ranges, which is called a composite image, and very real.
Image Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ), K. Onishi; NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, E. Sturdivant; NRAO/AUI/NSF

Turns out this black hole has a mass of...  
over 140 million times that of our sun
 (which called Sol, btw.)
Woosah... Deep breaths... It'll be ok.  Don't worry, none of us can really, fully grasp this enormity.

Our sun is 99.8% the mass of OUR solar system.  Sol, our sun, is about 330,000 times the weight of the Earth.  
And we're pretty tiny, walking around on Earth trying to do stuff.
Remember as you go around doing oh so very important stuff, that this black hole in the center of the picture above is 
Earth's Mass times, oh, about 46,200,000,000,000

enjoy your latte.

EDIT:ALMA JAPAN just uploaded this fantastic youtube video featuring this galaxy, NGC 1097.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Quick Layman Explanation of New "Einstein Ring" and "Gravitational Lensing"

Circles like this are a product of a concept called Gravitational Lensing; and it's pretty easy to grasp.  
If you visualize the distorted reflection we see in a droplet of water, and then realize that something big and dark with a field of gravity acts like the droplet and curves the pathways of light just like the drop of water does, then you "get" Gravitational Lensing.  These "Einstein Rings" like the one below are really one basic light source where, instead of coming straight at us without anything in it's way (looking like dot), it encounters a gravitational field on it's way (looking like a circle instead).

ALMA has a new image they released recently of a pretty badass Einstein Ring!  
This is why I'm all excited!
Credit: ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ)/Y. Tamura (The University of Tokyo)

Here's a quick visual diagram showing how gravitational lensing works:

ALMA rocks.  Their work is fantastic; and their media releases are often outrageously beautiful.
Here's the Rundown of the new Einstein Ring release by ALMA:
ALMA’s Long Baseline Campaign has produced a spectacularly detailed image of a distant galaxy being gravitationally lensed, revealing star-forming regions — something that has never been seen before at this level of detail in a galaxy so remote. The gravitationally lensed galaxy SDP.81, which appears as an almost perfect Einstein Ring, is seen here. 

Want To Learn More About Einstein Rings? 

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