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Space Science

Black Hole Blasts Neighbor Galaxy with Deadly Jet 222

butterwise writes to mention that astronomers have, for the first time, witnessed a super-massive black hole hitting a nearby galaxy with a "death-star-like" beam of energy. The story also has a video with simulations, pictures, and explanations. "The 'death star galaxy,' as NASA astronomers called it, could obliterate the atmospheres of planets but also trigger the birth of stars in the wake of its destructive beam. Fortunately, the cosmic violence is a safe distance from our own neck of the cosmos."
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Black Hole Blasts Neighbor Galaxy with Deadly Jet

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  • Imagine that on a Boeing, you wouldn't have to worry about collateral damage, there'd be nothing remotely collateral left :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 17, 2007 @07:25PM (#21732656)
    Black hole denies farting; blames it on nearby neutron star.
  • One flaw... (Score:3, Funny)

    by downix ( 84795 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @07:26PM (#21732674) Homepage
    When those pesky x-wings fly down and shoot the exhaust vent....
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 )
      Dude, it's no bigger than a womprat.. there's no way.

      • Yeah, but can you imagine trying to find something as small as a womprat in hidden somewhere in billions of cubic light years? ;)

  • that they could not nail down the exact nature of the exotic object giving off the deadly beam, but they did offer that "that's no moon"
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @07:29PM (#21732708)
    This is what happens when you're not willing to move your galaxy out of the path of a new intergalactic highway. Please don't complain about not knowing about it. The drawings been available in the next galaxy over for ages now.
    • And now that the next galaxy over is a whole lot closer, it's not like it's a long trip anymore. Lazy sentients.

  • Old news (Score:5, Funny)

    by jonfr ( 888673 ) * on Monday December 17, 2007 @07:31PM (#21732722) Homepage
    This is old news, this did happen 1.4 billion years ago.
    • Re:Old news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by shadowbearer ( 554144 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @08:41PM (#21733324) Homepage Journal
      And considering that the major damage to any inhabited planets that may have been there would have been radiation effects, one has to wonder if there's any intelligent species over there digging up 1.4 billion year old, relatively undamaged artifacts on their planets surfaces right now ;)

        (Disclaimer: I'm not saying we've found any here on Earth, just that it's interesting to speculate about)

        We'll never know...

  • by Mistshadow2k4 ( 748958 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @07:33PM (#21732750) Journal

    Fortunately, the cosmic violence is a safe distance from our own neck of the cosmos.

    That doesn't help the poor aliens living in that neck of the cosmos, you insensitive clod!

    • Since your sig file brings up Santa and oral sex in the same breath... a joke for you:


      Santa was caught by surprise when delivering gifts to a house.

      "Hey little girl, what are you doing awake at this hour?"

      "Oh, Santa, I've been waiting all year for you. Please stay a while."

      "Ho-ho-ho, gotta goooh gotta goohh. Gotta deliver these toys you know?"

      She played with her night gown, pulling it tight... "Please, Santa, don't go..."

      "Ho-ho-ho, gotta goooh gotta goohh. Gotta deliver these toys you know?"

      She played mo
  • by Stan Vassilev ( 939229 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @07:44PM (#21732854)
    That would indirectly suggest that in this galaxy there was no sufficiently advanced life that would detect, and try to protect itself, or stop, said "death ray".

    Some people believe the universe is chock full of life, but this one is score for the skeptics. I remain a cautious optimist.
    • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @08:07PM (#21733046)
      sufficiently advanced life that would detect, and try to protect itself, or stop, said "death ray"
      If there's a civilization that can shut down supermassive black holes at will then we'd know about it by now. Either because we're on the menu or we're needed to help clean the sewer mains on the black-hole-shutting-down supership.
    • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Monday December 17, 2007 @08:11PM (#21733066) Homepage Journal
      Riight. Who says this black hole blasting a galaxy isn't exactly the kind of megaengineering we've been looking for?
    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      Well, the Earth is pretty chock full of life, and if that thing aimed for us, we'd be amazingly screwed.

      Maybe its not even technologicaly and physically possible to protect yourself from something like that. At best, if there was a super high tech civilisation in that galaxy, they got their alien asses out of there. But even then, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but even if you have a ship capable of light speed, you better have had that technology LONG before the ray hit the galaxy to make it out in time.
      • if your ship was capable of doing the speed of light or even a significant portion of it then the radiation from the blackhole jet might be red-shifted enough that it would be easy to shield; instead of gamma radiation it might red-shift down to red light and not even have enough energy to power your solar cells decently.
    • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @09:35PM (#21733646) Homepage
      That would indirectly suggest that in this galaxy there was no sufficiently advanced life that would detect, and try to protect itself, or stop, said "death ray".

      Um, dude? That "death ray" has a significant scale relative to the size of a galaxy, all of it traveling at (x-rays, gamma rays) or close to (electrons) the speed of light. For one any species caught in its path wouldn't see it until it hit them, and two even if they knew about the beam it isn't clear that they could do anything about it except hide underground for thousands of years or bug out to another part of the galaxy, which itself would require faster-than-light travel. To actually redirect or shield themselves from the beam at a degree that would be visible in our telescopes would require technology on a scale that we can't even dream of.

      I find it highly odd that you would be skeptical of the existence of life arising elsewhere in the universe (which while we have no idea what exactly it takes, we know is possible because it has happened at least once), because of the apparent lack of faster than light travel (which according to our current theories is impossible) or even more miraculous feats of what amount to complete science fiction. We can't say that it could ever even be theoretically possible to be "sufficiently advanced" to pull off what you propose, much less if humanity could ever attain it.

      Have you seen the Hubble Deep Field []? That's an extremely narrow view of the sky, and it's completely stuffed with galaxies. And because this one particular galaxy has not, as far as we can tell, birthed a civilization with Q-like [] powers, you're questioning whether there could be life anywhere else out there at all? That's literally the oddest form of skepticism I've ever heard.

      Unless this is just dead-pan humor. I'll admit that I have problems detecting it when done with subtlety.
    • Maybe their solution was to get out of there (colonize other planets, flee into another dimension, etc) because they were able to formally prove there is no way to master a black hole?

      Alternatively, they may be taking advantage of this phenomenon, using the radiation somehow.
  • by writerjosh ( 862522 ) * on Monday December 17, 2007 @07:44PM (#21732864) Homepage
    We often take for granted when we see these cool renditions of distant space that these images are only possible when based on the leaps and bounds made with various telescopes over the last 50+ years:

    "Only now by combining the images of radio telescopes, the optical and ultraviolet eyes of Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, can researchers put together the entire violent story about this intergalactic mugging.

    The coordinated use of such an array of diverse and powerful telescopes is one of the unheralded triumphs of modern physics, Tyson said. "This is an example of the triumph of that exercise." []

    Just the fact that we can observe such a dramatic event is awe-inspiring.
    • Our eyes are so amazingly beyond any other organism's, that I say humans have abilities which are truly cosmic in scale. Think of the most powerful biological eye - probably a hawk or eagle's - and then compare the light-gathering and resolving power of it to the resolution and light gathered from an astronomical observation. It is a truly stellar distance, the separation.

      Yes, the biological human eye does not compare, but I consider our technology to be a part of us. After all, humans aren't really that we
      • Agreed. Though, of course, each instrument has its special field of applicability.

        Human eyes are amazing, but really only have much acuity in the fovea centralis (thus microsaccades). Horses' eyes don't have the acuity we do in the center of their visual fields, but their relatively high-resolution field extends considerably father than ours. We don't have tapeta; many other animals have much better night-vision than we do. Many birds can see a ways into the ultraviolet regions; many insects and
      • The capabilities of our technology are leaping far ahead of our understanding. There, shortened that for you :)

          Technology is fast, evolution is slow.

    • In other news, a clandestine Rebellion broadcast announced the deployment of a Super-Super-Super-Super-Super-Super Death Star in response to the Imperial deployment of the Super-Super-Super-Super-Super Death Star. Unfortunately, life thruout the galaxy was snuffed out before any official Imperial comment on the claim could be *NO CARRIER*

    • Unfortunate that at least some of that coordinated effort is slated to be decommissioned in the next little while... with both the Hubble and Arecibo (the latter not specifically named, but they did use the VLA radiotelescope) being punted, how much of this capability will we lose?
  • by mrpeebles ( 853978 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @08:11PM (#21733068)
    The space age is great. It lets us all see that we live on the same small world. One that could, in princple, be accidently blown up by a careless, nearby black hole.
    • If it happened to us, we would consider it the wrath of God and fulfillment of the prophecies. Now that it did not happen to us, it's just a space phenomenon.
  • ...which will consist of Rush Limbaugh figuring out a way to pin this on the Clintons, and Dennis Kucinich formulating a plan to deal with it...

    • will of course involve increasing taxes to make the problem go away. We don't know how that will make the problem go away, but such people always seem to think that upping taxes magically solves problems.
  • by ConcreteJungle ( 1177207 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @08:33PM (#21733254)
    The article states: Both galaxies are situated about 1.4 billion light-years away from Earth.

    and then goes on with: The offending galaxy probably began assaulting its companion about 1 million years ago...

    If the distance is 1.4 billion light years, light from the event should be taking that much time to reach us, and something that happened only a million years ago should not be visible yet.

    What am I missing here?
  • Radix! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nyago ( 784496 )
    Woah! This is exactly the premise of A. A. Attanasio's Radix! A line of energy from a black hole hits earth (after having passed over countless other worlds) and interferes with its magnetic field, eventually leading to mass mutations. Brilliant book. :D Out of print, though, as far as I can tell. :(
  • by g16n ( 1099619 ) on Monday December 17, 2007 @10:38PM (#21734032)
    This is what happens when a seductive mama galaxy spins in close proximity to an excited papa galaxy.
  • Is it possible that advanced civilizations are having it out with super powerful weapons? Using the mass-destroying power of a black hole to wipe out an enemy galaxy?

    If so, then I for one welcome our galaxy-destroying overlords, at least for now.
  • In a speech today, Bush promoted renewed investment in the space agency. "See, we've finally found the WMD and they're in another galaxy, see. It is imperative we develop the technology to impose regime change as quick as possible. 9-11."
  • "I told ya to put the toilet seat up. You sprayed all over our yard, you big glipnorf!"
  • ... remnants from a similar jet is what Earth is currently passing through? As a result our ozone layer has been subjected to some depletion and other atmospheric effects have led to a slight global change in climate. Yeah, yeah. A hypothesis riddled with weak points BUT before you slag it with "why it can't ....", what if we extend our minds a bit and see if it could happen THEN slag it.

    What if say, our companion dwarf galaxies have somehow redirected a bit of a similar jet from our own galactic black h

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"