Monday, December 18, 2006

The First Stars

From "Astronomers might have seen the very first stars in the universe. If so, these are incredible stars, some 1,000 times as massive as the Sun. The alternative is just as interesting: The objects might be early black holes consuming gas voraciously and spitting out radiation like crazy as nascent galaxies form."

Might I respectfully suggest that both might be true? Massive stars ARE early Black Holes? They are creating the pressure and temperature to trigger nuclear fusion. Remember, tiny singularities could not suck up the whole star, but would remain in their centres. A Black Hole would feel right at home in a stellar core. If it had memory, it would be reminded of the conditions that accompanied its birth near the Big Bang.

Thanks to the NSF's Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak, here is Herbig-Haro object HH 555 in the Pelican Nebula. A tiny singularity has collided with a galactic gas cloud, trailing a pillar of gas like a bullet fired through cotton candy. At the pillar's tip, gas is drawn into a disk which will form a baby star. At the top and bottom are two bright jets spiralling along magnetic field lines. These are the telltale signs of a Black Hole.

Theories of the Sun have advanced over time. As late as the 1920’s most astronomers would lecture that our Sun was made of iron, and glowed in the sky like a hot poker. Only a young astronomer named Cecilia Payne suggested that the Sun’s spectral lines could be interpreted as hydrogen. Because Payne was a woman, her idea was roundly dismissed. The equations of nuclear fusion were still being worked out, and most scientists doubted that Black Holes exist. Eventually the young woman was vindicated. As our knowledge of physics advances, so must theories of the Sun.


Blogger Kea said...

An amazing primordial Spitzer photograph made page 1 of the Sydney Morning Herald today. How exciting!

1:38 PM  
Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Yeah, that's a cool photo. Maybe I'll put it up tomorrow. I still miss Sydney, both the morning paper and the free afternoon paper on the train..

Once again I appreciate how tirelessly patient and supportive you have been. 6 months ago this little blog was started. It is a surprise how fast it has grown in popularity. Your blog has the most interesting maths out there, more exciting than that blog from Columbia.

6:04 PM  

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