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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Merging Galaxies Create a Binary Quasar


Image: SDSS J1254+0846 (A Quasar pair)

 This composite image shows the effects of two galaxies caught in the act of merging.
  • Quasars are some of the most luminous objects in the Universe.
  • The system SDSS 1254+0846 has a pair of them -- the first time this has been seen.
  • This double quasar is likely the result of a merger of two galaxies

"Astronomers have found the first clear evidence of a binary quasar within a pair of actively merging galaxies. Quasars are the extremely bright centers of galaxies surrounding super-massive black holes, and binary quasars are pairs of quasars bound together by gravity. Binary quasars, like other quasars, are thought to be the product of galaxy mergers. Until now, however, binary quasars have not been seen in galaxies that are unambiguously in the act of merging."

"But images of a new binary quasar from the Carnegie Institution's Magellan telescope in Chile show two distinct galaxies with "tails" produced by tidal forces from their mutual gravitational attraction."

"This is really the first case in which you see two separate galaxies, both with quasars, that are clearly interacting," says Carnegie astronomer John Mulchaey who made observations crucial to understanding the galaxy merger.

"Most, if not all, large galaxies, such as our galaxy the Milky Way, host super-massive black holes at their centers. Because galaxies regularly interact and merge, astronomers have assumed that binary super-massive black holes have been common in the Universe, especially during its early history."

"The binary quasar, labeled SDSS J1254+0846, was initially detected by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a large scale astronomical survey of galaxies and over 120,000 quasars. Further observations by Paul Green of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and colleagues* using NASA's Chandra's X-ray.
 Observatory and telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona and Palomar Observatory in California indicated that the object was likely a binary quasar in the midst of a galaxy merger. Carnegie's Mulchaey then used the 6.5 meter Baade-Magellan telescope at the Las Campanas observatory in Chile to obtain deeper images and more detailed spectroscopy of the merging galaxies."

"Just because you see two galaxies that are close to each other in the sky doesn't mean they are merging," says Mulchaey. "But from the Magellan images we can actually see tidal tails, one from each galaxy, which suggests that the galaxies are in fact interacting and are in the process of merging."

 To see a movie of movie of a numerical simulation  which shows a galaxy merger similar to SDSS J1254+0846 go to the following website: http://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/pub/19930.php

Source of image:  http://chandra.harvard.edu/photo/2010/sdss/
 Source of text:http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100203131413.htm and http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2010/02/04/Merging-galaxies-create-a-binary-quasar/UPI-13481265307613/

Here is some information about  the Sloan Digital Sky Survey:

"The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) obtained deep, multi-color images covering more than a quarter of the sky and created 3-dimensional maps containing more than 930,000 galaxies and more than 120,000 quasars. This was accomplished using  a dedicated 2.5-meter telescope at Apache Point Observatory, New Mexico, equipped with two powerful special-purpose instruments. The 120-megapixel camera imaged 1.5 square degrees of sky at a time, about eight times the area of the full moon. A pair of spectrographs fed by optical fibers measured spectra of (and hence distances to) more than 600 galaxies and quasars in a single observation. (source:http://www.sdss.org/
)"

  If you are interested in viewing some of the deep space objects the Sloan Digital Sky Survey has recorded go to the following website: http://www.sdss.org/gallery/gal_data.html

(A spectrograph (spectrophotometer, spectrometer or spectroscope) is an instrument used to measure properties of light over a specific portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. source:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrometer )

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Thoughts worth thinking about

"Our subconscious minds have no sense of humor, play no jokes and cannot tell the difference between reality and an imagined thought or image. What we continually think about eventually will manifest in our lives."-Sidney Madwed



Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every woman and man present their views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.- Albert Einstein Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. - Leo Buscaglia



A person's true wealth is the good he or she does in the world. - Mohammed



Our task must be to free ourselves... by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. -Albert Einstein



The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others. - Ghandi



The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves. - Helen Keller



Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life. Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make yourself a happier and more productive person. - Dr. David M. Burns



Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures. -His Holiness The Dalai Lama



Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it. -



Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being



The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity. -George Bernard Shaw

Ego's trick is to make us lose sight of our interdependence. That kind of ego-thought gives us a perfect justification to look out only for ourselves. But that is far from the truth. In reality we all depend on each other and we have to help each other. The husband has to help his wife, the wife has to help the husband, the mother has to help her children, and the children are supposed to help the parents too, whether they want to or not.-Gehlek Rinpoche Source: "The Best Buddhist Writing 2005 pg. 165

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events---that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies---and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.