Seeding The Supermassive

In the early Universe, things were quite different.  The first stars were much more massive than stars today, and contained mostly Hydrogen.  Astronomers have good ideas about how they formed, but other objects from around this time, namely black holes, are much tougher to account for.  Early black holes were huge, with no explanation for how they grew so large.  “Early” means “first Billion years after the Big Bang,” but even in that time, it’s hard to determine how observed black holes could grow as large as 100,000 solar masses. I say 100,000 solar masses, because that is the mass of two ‘seed’ black holes, discovered...

Motivation Monday: Uncertainty

In the world of science, there is no definite measurement.  In any quantity, there is what we call an uncertainty.  In a simple example, let’s say you were using a ruler to measure the length of a rope.  You line up the rope along the ruler, and take a reading.  But how sure are you that the rope was perfectly lined up with the end of the ruler? How certain are you that your reading was correct? There is always uncertainty.  It extends more broadly in life. I’m at a point in my life where I’ve been in the working...

Where does the Gold come from?

Gold doesn’t come from your local jewelry store, and the Gold rush that occurred in the Yukon territory at the turn of the 20th century is not the source I’m talking about either.  I want to take it further back, to the origins of gold the element.  Similar to the origins of most other elements on the periodic table, it requires an immense amount of energy, such as the nuclear fusion that goes on within a star.  But Gold can not be made by a star’s thermonuclear engine.  Gold requires more energy, as does every other element heavier than Iron.  So...