Colossal Black Hole Equal to 17 Billion Suns Discovered –May Overturn Existing Models



Lenticular galaxy NGC 1277


A group of astronomers led by Remco van den Bosch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) have discovered a black hole that could shake the foundations of current models of galaxy evolution. The Hubble image above shows the small, flattened disk galaxy NGC 1277, which contains one of the biggest central super-massive black holes ever found in its center. With the mass of 17 billion Suns, the black hole weighs in at an extraordinary 14% of the total galaxy mass –a mass much greater than current models predict — in particular in relation to the mass of its host galaxy. This could be the most massive black hole found to date. Astronomers would have expected a black hole of this size inside blob-like (“elliptical”) galaxies ten times larger. Instead, this black hole sits inside a fairly small disk galaxy.


Discovery of Mercury’s Water Ice Points to Complex Organics




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New observations by the MESSENGER spacecraft provide compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that Mercury harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials in its permanently shadowed polar craters. The new observations have also raised new questions: Do the dark materials in the polar deposits consist mostly of organic compounds? What kind of chemical reactions has that material experienced? Are there any regions on or within Mercury that might have both liquid water and organic compounds? Shown in the image above in red are areas of Mercury’s north polar region that are in shadow.


Image of the Day: Spectacular Jets of a Supermassive Black Hole Dwarf their Galaxy




The innocuous-looking galaxy, elliptical galaxy Hercules A,also known as 3C 348, has long been known as the brightest radio-emitting object in the constellation Hercules. Emitting nearly a billion times more power in radio wavelengths than our Sun, the galaxy is one of the brightest extragalactic radio sources in the entire sky created by spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a super massive black hole in the core of the galaxy. 


“Gravity Doesn’t Exist” –Is this Fundamental Phenomenon of the Universe an Illusion?




Could both gravity and the Big Bang be an illusion? In January 2010, Erik Verlinde, professor of Theoretical Physics and world-renowned string theorist, caused a worldwide stir with the publication of On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton, in which he challenged commonly held perceptions on gravity, going so far as to state ‘for me gravity doesn’t exist’. If he is proved correct, the consequences for our understanding of the universe and its origins in a Big Bang will be far-reaching.


Saturn’s Hexagon –“One of the Most Bizarre Things Seen in the Solar System”





One of the most bizarre things seen in the solar system is captured in the image above, taken on 27 November by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Cassini's camera zoomed into Saturn's polar hexagon storm's eye from from a distance of about 250,000 miles (400,000 kilometers). The spacecraft observed in infrared wavelengths, which can peer through the top layer of clouds to reveal the complex texture beneath. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been traveling the Saturnian system in a set of inclined, or tilted, orbits that give mission scientists a vertigo-inducing view of Saturn's polar regions, yielding spectacular images of roiling storm clouds and the swirling vortex at the center of Saturn's famed north polar hexagon.


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