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NASA Science

Virtual Telescope Zooms In On Milky Way Black Hole 181

Posted by samzenpus
from the old-bob dept.
FiReaNGeL writes "An international team has obtained the closest views ever of what is believed to be a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The astronomers used radio dishes in Hawaii, Arizona and California to create a virtual telescope more than 2,800 miles across that is capable of seeing details more than 1,000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope. The target of the observations was the source known as Sagittarius A* ("A-star"), long thought to mark the position of a black hole whose mass is 4 million times greater than the sun. Though Sagittarius A* was discovered 30 years ago, the new observations for the first time have an angular resolution, or ability to observe small details, that is matched to the size of the event horizon."
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Virtual Telescope Zooms In On Milky Way Black Hole

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  • freeresearcher.com (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2008 @03:29AM (#24870607)

    "a virtual telescope more than 2,800 miles across that is capable of seeing details more than 1,000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope"

    - ok, but HST is an optical telescope, not "radio dish".

  • Help Wanted? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nymz (905908) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @04:41AM (#24870983) Journal

    Pics or it didn't happen

    Oh, we have lots of pretty pictures (of colorful surrounding gas). We just don't have enough picture details to determine what it is, that is happening.

    What we could really use, like out of a science fiction story, is to stumble upon an ancient astronomer's time-lapse photo project. About 10-20 million years should be sufficient. But in case our stumbling plan fails, how would like to go down in history, sayyyy in 10-20 million years from now, as the guy who got the ball rolling?

  • Re:Interferometry (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @05:02AM (#24871073) Homepage Journal

    The thing that plugs into your cable or DSL isn't really a 'modem' either but that doesn't stop people from calling it one. 'Virtual telescope' is far easier for laymen to grasp. Yes, slashdotters can for the most part understand this stuff, but your pedantry isn't really called for.

  • expanding ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rohan972 (880586) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @06:36AM (#24871401)
    http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=expanding [reference.com]

    To determine that something is expanding you must first know its dimensions. Since we don't know the dimensions of the universe, we can't really tell if it is expanding or not. There is movement within the observed portion of the universe that is compatible with the concept of an expanding universe.
  • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @07:03AM (#24871541) Homepage

    The only thing in the Universe that is more dense and unexplained

    The intelligence and Ego of George W Bush

  • by Fred_A (10934) <fredNO@SPAMfredshome.org> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @07:40AM (#24871733) Homepage

    "a virtual telescope more than 2,800 miles across that is capable of seeing details more than 1,000 times finer than the Hubble Space Telescope"

    - ok, but HST is an optical telescope, not "radio dish".

    It's all part of the same electromagnetic spectrum [wikipedia.org]. The fact that you can only see a very narrow bit of it doesn't change the fact that the rest can be used to look at things with the right tools. The only difference is wavelength. If you had the right "eyes" it would all be the same to you.

  • Re:Interferometry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eclectic4 (665330) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @07:45AM (#24871761)
    "Interferometry and Aperture Synthesis aren't hard to understand."

    Then...

    "I'll try to put it simply..."

    And with two wiki links included? Sheesh... now I know you stated that /.ers "should be of a level of intelligence that they can understand this stuff", which I believe is true enough, but you greatly underestimate our laziness. "Virtual telescope" works just fine for me... IANAA, and I never will be, sorry.
  • Re:also... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @08:19AM (#24872005) Journal
    No. You have distance, rate of change of distance (speed) and rate of change of speed (acceleration). Gravity provides an acceleration, which is dependent on distance (meaning that you have a rate of change of acceleration due to gravity, which is what makes orbital calculations tricky). If two objects are moving away from each other, they have an initial speed. Gravity will be applying a force on them, which will be decreasing their speed, but their distance will keep increasing. As the distance increases, the effect of gravity decreases (it's proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance). As such, objects can continue to move away from each other (i.e. the volume encompassed by the distance between them will expand) without any reduction in gravity. The question is whether the initial impulse was enough to allow them to keep moving away from each other (continual expansion theory) or whether they will eventually start moving back towards each other and then collapse (big crunch theory).
  • Re:Interferometry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2008 @08:20AM (#24872015)
    He might be an attention seeking troll but he's right. If somebody says virtual telescope, I can sort of relate to what they're talking about. If they use "Interferometry and Aperture Synthesis", I'll just go "Some boring shit" and go away. You might have not enough of a life to actually use these terms, but the average slashdotter doesn't even know what they mean.
  • Re:obligatory (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:06AM (#24874039)

    Incorrect. At the event horizon they will see you scream for eternity.

Prototype designs always work. -- Don Vonada

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