Amazing visualisation of a star captured and ripped apart by the immense gravitational well of a Black Hole.
As the outer atmosphere of the star is accelerated by the black hole’s gravity much of it reaches escape velocity and is strewn into space, while some becomes trapped in a highly eccentric orbit. Stellar material reaching the event horizon closer to the back hole is super heated by frictional heating and turbulent flow, generating a bright accretion disk.
Meanwhile jets of concentrated electromagnetic radiation and ionised particles are blasted deep into space along the axis of rotation – a so called astrophysical jet. This transfer of kinetic energy means the black hole system is slowly loosing angular momentum over time.
I often think the universe at this scale is like witnessing a vast machine running on the conservational of energy. A wonderful illustration of the exchange of gravitational potential, angular kinetic, linear kinetic, heat and mass energy.
All energy was created at the big bang singularity and all physical processes from star birth, star death, black holes and even organic human life is the transfer and redistribution of this original energy state.
Safety: Please remember to never observe the Sun without proper eye protection. Solar glasses are needed to observe naked eye and proper objective mounted filters or projection should be used to observe it in binoculars or telescope.
Congratulations to Prof. Catherine Heymans, who’s been appointed Scotland’s 11th Astronomer Royal.
She replaces John Brown who sadly passed away in 2019.
An expert on dark energy and dark matter, Catherine is also director of the German Centre for Cosmological Lensing at Ruhr-University Bochum.
One of Catherine’s most exciting early initiatives in the role will be to install telescopes in all of Scotland’s remote outdoor learning centres, that are visited by school pupils.
She’s passionate about the cathartic experience of live observing, and how this can drive a lifelong passion for science:
“I don’t think anyone forgets the first time they saw the rings of Saturn through a telescope, but too many people never have the chance.“
“My hope is that once that spark and connection with the universe is made, children will carry that excitement home with them and develop a life-long passion for astronomy or, even better, science as a whole,”.
I couldn’t agree more.
The position of Astronomer Royal for Scotland was created in 1834 and originally held by the director of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell, president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, said: “The Astronomer Royal for Scotland has always been a distinguished and respected astronomer, and Professor Heymans is exactly that.”
Stargazing is winding down for the year in the far north of Scotland. Today is the last day with official ‘night’ this far north at 57 degrees latitude (Inverness). Between 1.00am and 1.27am tonight you can experience just over 20 mins of night. By tomorrow this will be gone, replaced by astronomical twilight. And by mid May we’ll have lost our astronomical twilight as well.
Orkney and Shetland have already lost all night and are rapidly running out of astronomical twilight.
The further south you live, however, the more darkness you still hold on to. Around Glasgow and Edinburgh you still have 2 hours 30 mins of night (currently from midnight until 2.27am). And at London latitudes you still have a whopping 4 hours and 20 minutes. (from 10.50pm until 3.10am).
As we head into the summer days I’ll be shifting the focus of the page towards the Sun, Moon, bright planets, noctilucent clouds and the near midnight Sun phenomena we experience during the long days from May until August.
Here’s hoping for lots of clear and sunny skies.
Picture: Sunset over Ben Wyvis from the Bunchrew shoreline.
*Night is defied as the Sun sitting 18 degrees below the horizon (see accompanying picture from timeanddate)