APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

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APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by APOD Robot » Tue May 31, 2011 4:06 am

Image Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A

Explanation: Jets of streaming plasma expelled by the central black hole of a massive spiral galaxy light up this composite image of Centaurus A. The jets emanating from Cen A are over a million light years long. Exactly how the central black hole expels infalling matter is still unknown. After clearing the galaxy, however, the jets inflate large radio bubbles that likely glow for millions of years. If excited by a passing front, radio bubbles can even light up again after a billion years. X-ray light is depicted in the above composite image in blue, while microwave light is false-colored orange. The inset image in radio light shows newly imaged, never seen-before details of the innermost light year of the central jet.

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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by Beyond » Tue May 31, 2011 4:21 am

Man! What a BIG microwave oven! Anything big enough to be cooked in that; i don't want to get near!
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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by bystander » Tue May 31, 2011 5:12 am

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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by biddie67 » Tue May 31, 2011 3:01 pm

It is always with a great deal of hesitation that I make a comment about something here on APOD like this but ......

It doesn't seem unreasonable that black holes could have several different behavior characteristics and, depending upon sizes, strength or what else, could have critical internal pressure points where they have to start ejecting energies of different kinds.

The behavior of Cen A seems to be at some very extreme limit. Could a black hole implode or explode?

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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue May 31, 2011 3:23 pm

biddie67 wrote:It doesn't seem unreasonable that black holes could have several different behavior characteristics and, depending upon sizes, strength or what else, could have critical internal pressure points where they have to start ejecting energies of different kinds.
Actually, within the context of modern physics, that is unreasonable. In fact, black holes are amongst the best understood, simplest of objects- similar in many respects to a fundamental particle.
The behavior of Cen A seems to be at some very extreme limit. Could a black hole implode or explode?
No- there is nothing to suggest that is possible. In a very general sense, jets like this are understood as an interaction between a black hole and surrounding media. While there are lots of missing details, I don't think you'll find many physicists who doubt that this is fundamentally what is going on. No new black hole physics is required.
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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by drollere » Tue May 31, 2011 4:28 pm

minor but important point of language: "light" is radiation that can stimulate the human eye to produce a visual sensation. there is no such thing as "xray light" or "microwave light", because these are invisible -- unless one wants to admit "heat light" and "radio light" into the popular science lexicon of photon avatars ... and then we're forced to use the redundant "light light" or "visible light" for the original concept.

it's great that APOD wants to keep science lite, but there's nothing arcane or unintelligible about "xray radiation" or "microwave energy".

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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by bystander » Tue May 31, 2011 4:47 pm

Light in astronomical terms is electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength which travels in a vacuum at 'c', about 186,281 miles (300,000 km) per second.
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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue May 31, 2011 4:48 pm

drollere wrote:minor but important point of language: "light" is radiation that can stimulate the human eye to produce a visual sensation. there is no such thing as "xray light" or "microwave light", because these are invisible -- unless one wants to admit "heat light" and "radio light" into the popular science lexicon of photon avatars ... and then we're forced to use the redundant "light light" or "visible light" for the original concept.

it's great that APOD wants to keep science lite, but there's nothing arcane or unintelligible about "xray radiation" or "microwave energy".
That is just one definition of "light". The word is also defined to mean any electromagnetic radiation, with "visible light" very commonly used to define that particular part of the spectrum.

While I, too, prefer "x-ray radiation" or "microwave radiation" (I don't much care for "microwave energy"), I don't think there is anything technically wrong with "x-ray light"; it just sounds a bit awkward.
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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by Ann » Tue May 31, 2011 5:08 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
biddie67 wrote:It doesn't seem unreasonable that black holes could have several different behavior characteristics and, depending upon sizes, strength or what else, could have critical internal pressure points where they have to start ejecting energies of different kinds.
Actually, within the context of modern physics, that is unreasonable. In fact, black holes are amongst the best understood, simplest of objects- similar in many respects to a fundamental particle.
The behavior of Cen A seems to be at some very extreme limit. Could a black hole implode or explode?
No- there is nothing to suggest that is possible. In a very general sense, jets like this are understood as an interaction between a black hole and surrounding media. While there are lots of missing details, I don't think you'll find many physicists who doubt that this is fundamentally what is going on. No new black hole physics is required.
In the June 2011 issue of Astronomy magazine, Bob Berman claims that astronomers don't understand the jet of M87. He wrote:
A couple hundred light-years from its origin at the center of M87, the jet has a brilliant swirling knot named HST-1.Its brightness changes unpredictably. But why? And what exactly causes those jets? A leading astronomer said, "We're not yet sure." Grab the dictionary.
Bob Berman was making the point that when astronomers say that they aren't sure, they mean that they haven't a clue. (That's what he meant when he said we should grab a dictionary.) So it seems to me that Bob Berman is saying that astronomers don't have a clue as to why the jet of M87 behaves the way it does. Do you agree with him, Chris?

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Last edited by Ann on Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue May 31, 2011 5:35 pm

Ann wrote:Bob Berman was making the point that when astronomers say that they aren't sure, they mean that they haven't a clue. (That's what he meant when he said we should grab a dictionary.) So it seems to me that Bob Berman is saying that astronomers don't have a clue as to why the jet of M87 behaves the way it does. Do you agree with him, Chris?
I certainly do not.

As I said, I don't think you'll find many physicists who don't think that, fundamentally, the jets associated with active galaxies are not produced by an interaction between rotating supermassive black holes and their surrounding media. That interaction is certainly very poorly understood, but to suggest we don't have a clue is completely wrong. And when an astronomer says he is "unsure", it almost never means he "doesn't have a clue".
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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by rfvyhnal@cox.net » Tue May 31, 2011 7:20 pm

How is it determined that the jets from this galaxy are emanating from the black hole, as opposed to being pulled into the black hole?

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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by Chris Peterson » Tue May 31, 2011 7:44 pm

rfvyhnal@cox.net wrote:How is it determined that the jets from this galaxy are emanating from the black hole, as opposed to being pulled into the black hole?
Well, besides the fact that black holes don't generally pull things into them (and certainly not on the distance scale of these jets), I'm sure that the direction of motion of the jets is very obvious from Doppler measurements.
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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by celebrindal » Tue May 31, 2011 8:23 pm

rfvyhnal@cox.net wrote:How is it determined that the jets from this galaxy are emanating from the black hole, as opposed to being pulled into the black hole?
We don't need to struggle to see that these jets have clearly an outward dynamic, it is still nature we are familiar with(the shape represents something expelling). We do have difficulties in understanding "images" at real macro and micro cosmos plus we don't have equipment to measure them.

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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by RADDAD » Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:52 am

I found the term "light" quite off-putting since nothing in the image was visible light. Electromagnetic radiation I believe is the best term. It is not the light spectrum, but the electromagnetic spectrum. If you were writing this for fourth graders "light" would be fine. I have never heard "light" being anything but a subset of the electromagnetic spectrum.

It may not be "technically wrong" but I think this is one time when you could say "Oops, we dumbed it down too much." Call it what it is commonly referred to in most scientific circles - electromagnetic radiation. After all, this is Astronomy POD, not Astrology Pics.

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Re: APOD: Jets from Unusual Galaxy Centaurus A (2011 May 31)

Post by Chris Peterson » Wed Jun 01, 2011 4:07 am

RADDAD wrote:I found the term "light" quite off-putting since nothing in the image was visible light. Electromagnetic radiation I believe is the best term. It is not the light spectrum, but the electromagnetic spectrum. If you were writing this for fourth graders "light" would be fine. I have never heard "light" being anything but a subset of the electromagnetic spectrum.

It may not be "technically wrong" but I think this is one time when you could say "Oops, we dumbed it down too much." Call it what it is commonly referred to in most scientific circles - electromagnetic radiation. After all, this is Astronomy POD, not Astrology Pics.
I also prefer "electromagnetic radiation", but I will say that amongst my astronomer colleagues, "light" is commonly used in discussing EM over a very wide range, from x-rays out to radio. Just the lingo. It's no worse than "metal" for anything heavier than helium! <g>
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The Penrose process

Post by neufer » Wed Jun 01, 2011 3:31 pm

rfvyhnal@cox.net wrote:
How is it determined that the jets from this galaxy are emanating from the black hole, as opposed to being pulled into the black hole?
For each particle that emanates from the ergosphere there is a particle that is being pulled into the event horizon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penrose_process wrote: <<The Penrose process (also called Penrose mechanism) is a process theorised by Roger Penrose wherein energy can be extracted from a rotating black hole. That extraction is made possible because the rotational energy of the black hole is located, not inside the event horizon of the black hole, but on the outside of it in a region of the Kerr spacetime called the ergosphere, a region in which a particle is necessarily propelled in locomotive concurrence with the rotating spacetime. All objects in the ergosphere become dragged by a rotating spacetime. In the process, a lump of matter enters into the ergosphere of the black hole, and once it enters the ergosphere, it is split into two. The momentum of the two pieces of matter can be arranged so that one piece escapes to infinity, whilst the other falls past the outer event horizon into the hole. The escaping piece of matter can possibly have greater mass-energy than the original infalling piece of matter, whereas the infalling piece has negative mass-energy. In summary, the process results in a decrease in the angular momentum of the black hole, and that reduction corresponds to a transference of energy whereby the momentum lost is converted to energy extracted.

The process obeys the laws of black hole mechanics. A consequence of these laws is that if the process is performed repeatedly, the black hole can eventually lose all of its angular momentum, becoming non-rotating, i.e. a Schwarzschild black hole.

The outer surface of the ergosphere is described as the ergosurface and it is the surface at which light-rays that are counter-rotating (with respect to the black hole rotation) remain at a fixed angular coordinate, according to an external observer. Since massive particles necessarily travel slower than the speed of light, massive particles must rotate with respect to a stationary observer "at infinity". A way to picture this is by turning a fork on a flat linen sheet; as the fork rotates, the linen becomes twirled with it, i.e. the innermost rotation propagates outwards resulting in the distortion of a wider area. The inner boundary of the ergosphere is the event horizon, that event horizon being the spatial perimeter beyond which light cannot escape.

Inside this ergosphere, the time and one of the angular coordinates swap meaning (time becomes angle and angle becomes time) because timelike coordinates have only a single direction (and remember the particle is necessarily rotating with the black hole in a single direction only). Because of this weird and unusual coordinate swap, the energy of the particle can assume both positive and negative values as measured by an observer at infinity.

If particle A enters the ergosphere of a Kerr black hole, then splits into particles B and C, then the consequence (given the assumptions that conservation of energy still holds and one of the particles is allowed to have negative energy) will be that particle B can exit the ergosphere with more energy than particle A while particle C goes into the black hole, i.e. E(A)=E(B)+E(C) and say E(C)<0, then E(B)>E(A). In this way, rotational energy is extracted from the black hole, resulting in the black hole being spun down to a lower rotational speed. The maximum amount of energy is extracted if the split occurs just outside the event horizon and if particle C is counter-rotating to the greatest extent possible. In the opposite process, a black hole can be spun up (its rotational speed increased) by sending in particles that do not split up, but instead give their entire angular momentum to the black hole.>>
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Hey...batter, batter, batter....

Post by neufer » Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:19 pm

http://www.universetoday.com/86490/astronomy-without-a-telescope-oh-my-god-particles/#more-86490 wrote: Astronomy Without A Telescope – Oh-My-God Particles
by Steve Nerlich on June 12, 2011 <<Cosmic rays are really sub-atomic particles, being mainly protons (hydrogen nuclei) and occasionally helium or heavier atomic nuclei and very occasionally electrons. Cosmic ray particles are very energetic as a result of them having a substantial velocity and hence a substantial momentum.

The Oh-My-God particle detected over Utah in 1991 was probably a proton traveling at 0.999 (and add another 20 x 9s after that) of the speed of light and it allegedly carried the same kinetic energy as a baseball traveling at 90 kilometers an hour.

Its kinetic energy was estimated at 3 x 1020 electron volts (eV) and it would have had the collision energy of 7.5 x 1014 eV when it hit an atmospheric particle – since it can’t give up all its kinetic energy in the collision. Fast moving debris carries some of it away and there’s some heat loss too. In any case, this is still about 50 times the collision energy we expect the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will be able to generate at full power. So, this gives you a sound basis to scoff at doomsayers who are still convinced that the LHC will destroy the Earth.

Now, most cosmic ray particles are low energy, up to 1010 eV – and arise locally from solar flares. Another more energetic class, up to 1015 eV, are thought originate from elsewhere in the galaxy. It’s difficult to determine their exact source as the magnetic fields of the galaxy and the solar system alter their trajectories so that they end up having a uniform distribution in the sky – as though they come from everywhere.

But in reality, these galactic cosmic rays probably come from supernovae – quite possibly in a delayed release process as particles bounce back and forth in the persisting magnetic field of a supernova remnant, before being catapulted out into the wider galaxy.

And then there are extragalactic cosmic rays, which are of the Oh-My-God variety, with energy levels exceeding 1015 eV, even rarely exceeding 1020 eV – which are more formally titled ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. These particles travel very close to the speed of light and must have had a heck of kick to attain such speeds.

However, a perhaps over-exaggerated aura of mystery has traditionally surrounded the origin of extragalactic cosmic rays – as exemplified in the Oh-My-God title.

In reality, there are limits to just how far away an ultra-high-energy particle can originate from – since, if they don’t collide with anything else, they will eventually come up against the Greisen–Zatsepin–Kuzmin (GZK) limit. This represents the likelihood of a fast moving particle eventually colliding with a cosmic microwave background photon, losing momentum energy and velocity in the process. It works out that extragalactic cosmic rays retaining energies of over 1019 eV cannot have originated from a source further than 163 million light years from Earth – a distance known as the GZK horizon.

Recent observations by the Pierre Auger Observatory have found a strong correlation between extragalactic cosmic rays patterns and the distribution of nearby galaxies with active galactic nuclei. Biermann and Souza have now come up with an evidence-based model for the origin of galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays – which has a number of testable predictions.

They propose that extragalactic cosmic rays are spun up in supermassive black hole accretion disks, which are the basis of active galactic nuclei. Furthermore, they estimate that nearly all extragalactic cosmic rays that reach Earth come from Centaurus A. So, no huge mystery – indeed a rich area for further research. Particles from an active supermassive black hole accretion disk in another galaxy are being delivered to our doorstep.
On a common origin of galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays - Peter L. Biermann, Vitor de Souza << Previous
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