The consumption of stars by supermassive black holes which lie at the centre of most galaxies is believed to be a fairly common event in the Universe, but astronomers have been unable to observe such proceedings unfold. That was until recently. It was revealed today that scientists at Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia in Granada, Spain have used two specialised telescopes to observe the violent event in its full glory.
In a week mostly dominated by NASA’s announcement of the discovery of organic molecules on Mars, some other important science stories may have slipped under the radar. In the Science Dispatches for the first week of June 2018; a possible breakthrough in the treatment of cancer, the self-consuming rocket and counting bees.
April 25th was an important day for astronomers as it marked the release of a massive set of data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia probe. But for Ken Shan and his team, the data presented a unique opportunity to support a hypothesis regarding the cause of Type Ia Supernovas and possible extra-galactic intruders.
A look at a selection of the most important and interesting science stories from the first week of May 2018, including NASA’s INSIGHT probe’s mission to Mars, nuclear fusion for space exploration, photosynthetic sea-slugs and Stephen Hawking’s final research-paper.
Astronomers have long since concluded that the active galactic nuclei of most galaxies such as our own Milky Way play host to supermassive black holes of masses in excess of millions of times that of the Sun. Now new research implies that our own galaxy may well also contain up to as many as twelve ‘wandering’ supermassive black holes in addition to the central SMBH.
Without a doubt, black holes are the most mysterious objects ever discovered by astronomers mostly due to the fact that unlike other astronomical bodies, black holes cannot be observed directly, their mass is so great and contained within such a small radius that even light cannot travel fast enough to escape their gravity. Cosmologists and astronomers have found ways around this problem, including the observation of matter falling into black holes. It is this method that has allowed researchers at several institutions across the US to learn more about the composition of black holes and to discover that their properties may well defy previous expectations.
The chemical balance of the solar system is not in-line with the universe in general and the expected results of a supernova explosion. Now researchers at the Enrico Fermi Institute in Chicago think they may have come up with a solution to this chemical imbalance, a solution that involves the solar-system emerging from the shell of a dead Wolf-Rayet star.