Mar 4, 2009 | 27
Black holes, as frighteningly extreme as they may be, are relatively commonplace across the universe. Like most large galaxies, our own Milky Way packs a supermassive black hole at its core, a lurking monster some four million times as massive as the sun.
But our own neighborhood bully appears relatively tame next to a distant quasar, or bright galactic center, recently spotted by astronomers Todd Boroson and Tod Lauer of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Ariz. The quasar, known as SDSS J153636.22+044127.0, appears to host a pair of black holes, bound together in a tight orbital relationship, circling each other every 100 or so years. The finding appears today in Nature.
Dec 19, 2008
Astronomers have picked up what they say is the most distant signature of water vapor ever detected—from a region of space so far away that it took 11.1 billion years for light to travel from there to Earth. (The universe itself is only believed to be about 14 billion years old.)
Violette Impellizzeri, then a graduate student at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, and her colleagues spotted the water vapor in a distant quasar by taking advantage of a process called gravitational lensing. The way a massive object—in this case a galaxy between the quasar and Earth—bends light, as described by Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, can allow it to function as a sort of "cosmic magnifying glass," as Impellizzeri put it.
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Conventional washing machines cause excessive damage and wrinkling to clothes primarily during the water removal step. With the introduc
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