The source of high-energy ‘cosmic neutrinos’ has eluded scientists for decades, that was until last September when such a particle struck a detector buried in ice at the South-Pole, research published in Science reveals. The event was coupled with the detection of a flaring ‘blazar’ by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Telescope giving us a clue as to the origin of high-energy neutrinos. This discovery is not just significant for our knowledge of these particles however, it may help usher in a whole new age of astronomy.
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.
The science dispatches for the week ending 03/05/18 collecting the most interesting and important science news for the final week in May including potential signs of intermediate black holes, an exciting breakthrough in artificial nerves, interesting developments in Pluto’s origins and how to own your own Allosaurus.
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.
One of the great ironies of Hawking’s death was that fact that one of his most revolutionary contributions to science suggested that nothing in our universe can last forever. In the formulation of Hawking radiation, he showed us the even, cosmological giants, black-holes, may eventually ebb away. In considering Hawking’s genius we will be exposed to a greater, far crueller irony, the reason that one of the greatest minds in this era of science will never hold its greatest accolade.
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.