Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dark Heart of Dwarf Galaxies

We were hoping to watch STS-119 launch Thursday. This writer was in JSC Building 2, near the Press Room, when the launch was scribbed at 1:37 PM CST. Hopefully the problem can be fixed by Sunday. If the delay lasts until Monday or Tuesday, they will shorten the mission by 1-2 EVA's. A longer delay will mean postponing the mission until after the Soyuz flight due March 26. This may impact the Hubble servicing mission STS-125 scheduled for May 12. However, a delay for that mission decreases the risk of debris from the February 10 satellite collision. In turn a delay in STS-125 will affect pad availability for the Ares 1-X test. It has been decided to keep both Pads 39A and 39B available for a possible shuttle rescue mission.

In the meantime, Hubble has found more evidence that small dwarf galaxies are held together by some sort of "dark" mass. By looking at the Perseus cluster 250 million light-years away, Hubble found dwarf galaxies in places where the cluster's gravity could tear them apart. Giant clusters like Perseus are probably anchored by enormous hidden Black Holes. The dwarf galaxies may also contain Black Holes. Calling them "dark matter" would be a misnomer since they were never matter at all. The Black Holes are probably primordial, formed from quantum fluctuations shortly after the Big Bang. Someday astronmers may find that "dark" mass is made of billions of Black Holes.

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8:44 PM  
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