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> Caught on tape: Death star galaxy - Yahoo! News
More info on this object, 3C321, is below this story.
Caught on tape: Death star galaxy
By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer
WASHINGTON - The latest act of senseless violence caught on tape is
cosmic in scope: A black hole in a "death star galaxy" blasting a
neighboring galaxy with a deadly jet of radiation and energy.
A fleet of space and ground telescopes have captured images of this
cosmic violence, which people have never witnessed before, according
to a new study released Monday by NASA.
"It's like a bully, a black-hole bully punching the nose of a
passing galaxy," said astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director
of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, who wasn't involved in the
But ultimately, this could be a deadly punch.
The telescope images show the bully galaxy shooting a stream of
deadly radiation particles into the lower section of the other
galaxy, which is about one-tenth its size. Both are about 8.2
billion trillion miles from here, orbiting around each other.
The larger galaxy has a multi-digit name but is called the "death
star galaxy" by one of the researchers who discovered the galactic
bullying, Daniel Evans of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for
Tens of millions of stars, including those with orbiting planets,
are likely in the path of the deadly jet, said study co-author
Martin Hardcastle of the University of Hertfordshire in the United
If Earth were in the way and it's not the high-energy particles
and radiation of the jet would in a matter of months strip away the
planet's protective ozone layer and compress the protective
magnetosphere, said Evans. That would then allow the sun and the jet
itself to bombard the planet with high-energy particles.
And what would that do life on the planet?
"Decompose it," Tyson said.
"Sterilize it," Evans piped in.
The jet attack is relatively new, in deep space time. Hardcastle
estimates it's no more than 1 million years old and can stretch on
for another 10 to 100 million years.
"A truly extraordinary act of violence," Evans said. "The jet
violently slams into that lower half of the neighboring galaxy after
which the jet dramatically twists and bends."
The good news is that eventually an area of hot gas that gets hit
and compressed by this mysterious jet astronomers are still
baffled by what's in it and how it works over millions and
billions of years can form stars, Tyson said.
NASA, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in United States and
the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom used ground
optical and radio telescopes, the Hubble Space Telescope, the
Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope
to get an image of the violence on various wavelengths, including
invisible ones. The results will be published in The Astrophysical
Journal next year.
The two galaxies are only 24,000 light-years apart and are in a slow
merging process. The jet has already traveled 1 million light-years.
A light-year is about 5.88 trillion miles.
Tyson said there are two main lessons to be learned from what the
telescopes have found:
"This is a reminder that you are not alone in the universe. You are
not isolated. You are not an island."
And "avoid black holes when you can."
On the Net
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory: http://chandra.nasa.gov/
"Category: Quasars & Active Galaxies
Coordinates (J2000): RA 15h 31m 42.70s | Dec +24º 04' 25.00''
I'm going to have to find out whether that's Caput or Cauda, and the
zodiacal coordinates, later.
Mark A. Holmes