The Gravity Wave Era

I saw an article last night about gravitational waves, that a black hole merger was detected by not just the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), but by another project altogether, the Virgo collaboration.  This is the first gravitational wave detection confirmed by two separate groups, and it marks the beginning of a new era of experimental science, the first in astronomy in over two decades. Around 1.8 Billion years ago, to black holes merged in a faroff galaxy.  They had masses of 31 and 25 times that of the Sun, though with their incredible density they would each be...

Universe Radio on Repeat

Looking at the universe in radio waves is a fascinating sight.  For one, the radio sky is very weak; If you placed your cellphone on the Moon facing back at Earth, it would be brighter than all other radio sources in the entire sky by a factor of a million.  But as with every other part of the electromagnetic spectrum, it has scientific value in studying the sky.  Over the past decade, astronomers have been identifying several Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), short bursts of radio waves from different places in the universe that last for a few short seconds.  These are...

The Gravity Wave ‘Discovery’

You may have heard about the leaked rumour about the discovery of gravitational waves from earlier this week.  It was from Lawrence Krauss, who is an amazing science communicator and author, as well as a darn good astrophysicist. My earlier rumor about LIGO has been confirmed by independent sources. Stay tuned! Gravitational waves may have been discovered!! Exciting. — Lawrence M. Krauss (@LKrauss1) January 11, 2016 It’s safe to say that as a guy with an inside scoop on a lot of the latest science news, this is something to get excited about.  The ‘LIGO’ he is referring to stands...

First Light For Black Hole Observatory

A newly installed instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) has just taken it’s first images, what we call ‘first light’ in the astronomy world.  The instrument, called GRAVITY, uses four different 8m telescopes to perform what we call ‘Baseline Interferometry.’  It is expected that tis is the instrument that will allow humanity to take the first ever direct picture of a black hole. Interferometry is a technique that uses multiple small telescopes all collecting light at a specific wavelength.  These telescopes form a line that we call the baseline.  The combination of these telescopes and...

Four Moons Larger than Luna

Our Solar System is so much more than just the eight planets that inhabit it.  One of the things I learned a bit later in my career as an astronomer (my teenage years; been doing this for awhile) is how unique and diverse the natural satellites are.  Our own moon seems somewhat tame, and it’s easy to think the same of all moons.  Many of them are boring quiescent rocks with little more scientific value than asteroids, but the largest hide deep and profound secrets that we are just starting to unlock.  Four moons in our solar system are larger...