December 11, 2017

13.02.11: A Monster in M87.

NASA’s Chandra X-Ray observatory recently peered into the heart of the M87 galaxy in the constellation Virgo. Well known to backyard observers as one of the highlights of the Virgo galaxy cluster, M87 harbors something truly spectacular; one of the most massive black holes known. In fact, researchers American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle Washington earlier last month upgraded to WOW factor of the M87, calculating a mass of 6.6 billion suns.

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04.02.11: A Gravitational Lensing Exoplanet.

Artist’s rendition of the gravitational lens technique MOA uses to spot exoplanets…(All Images coutesy of the MOA Consortium: Used with Permision).

Amid the sexier transiting exoplanet discoveries released earlier this week by the NASA Kepler team came an exoplanet discovered by a lesser known technique; that of gravitational lensing. MOA, or Microlensing Observations for Astrophysics, is a joint Japan/New Zealand venture looking for dark matter objects passing in front of stars and bending their light via gravitational lensing. First predicted by Einstein and famously observed during the total solar eclipse of 1919, several gravitational lenses are now known and documented in nature, from stellar type objects to massive galaxy clusters. [Read more...]