The Cosmic Talk #8

Ashley Lassley

Hey nerds! Welcome back to the Cosmic Talk. In this edition, we will discuss a few new major discoveries from across the universe, and one not too far from home.

Our first one has to do with black holes. In the last few decades, scientists have determined that super massive black holes, like the one in the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A*, tend to be more prevalent in larger galaxies and absent in smaller or dwarf galaxies like our own Magellanic Cloud. The pending question is though, if these smaller galaxies don’t have black holes in them, and larger galaxies are made from these smaller galaxies, then how do galaxies get black holes to begin with? It’s something we’ve been looking into. Back in 2011, we were looking into a galaxy where seemingly not much happened, even though it was quite powerful and very active. It also did not possess a super-massive black hole, or so we thought, until we decided to look into some radio frequencies and discovered, near the center, a very large black hole, not much smaller than our own. 

This taught us to look for them differently. Instead of looking at galaxies in regular light we had to start looking at them in radio light. We observed 111 smaller dwarf galaxies where we didn’t find anything before. Our research had shown that we found about 13 of them that we didn’t see, all very visible in radio frequencies. Though, they were not in the center of their galaxy; in fact, they were very off center. These black holes are known as wandering black holes, which correlates with a lot of predictions that when a lot of smaller galaxies collide, their central black holes get dislodged from the center and thrown out of the galaxy or wander about it. From this discovery alone we can assume a lot of other galaxies probably don’t have their central black hole as well. The Magellanic Cloud may have a black hole as well, we just have to look away from its center.

Our next discovery was the new biggest explosion, five times larger than the last. The explosion, taking place about a hundred million years ago in a region known as Ophiuchus. This discovery was very exciting because we thought this occurrence wouldn’t even be possible. The galactic region isn’t very far from our own super cluster, and the region in which it takes place spans about a few million light years across. This is where we found our explosion. We recognized it as one because of the structures and emissions happening that are taking place here. There are a lot of radio and x-ray emissions all forming in the same region, in the same shape, as if something in the center exploded releasing this energy, creating the structures. 

Whatever the explosion was, it caused something quite strange, a hole or cavity in the plasma. This crater is about fifteen milky ways across (and no I don’t mean the candy bar). This explosion would’ve had to be roughly as powerful as fifty billion supernova. Of course we have our theories of it being a black hole, but the amount of gas this black hole would have to have consumed suddenly is almost unexplainable; though, some scientists believe it happened over a few million years. 

It’s quite possible that something very massive, like some massive gas cloud, was absorbed over a long period and created a very large emission. We found the formation in radio waves and x-ray radiation. We currently really have no explanation, but it’s still very interesting, as it’s not only a strange find on its own, but the galaxy it was found in is seemingly pretty inactive.

One of our last major discoveries of this month was the new tiny “moon” found in Earth’s orbit. We have many more objects similar to the tiny moon, known as quasi-satellites. They first orbit the sun and then find their way into Earth’s orbit, but eventually leave orbit and move throughout the solar system. The one we found is possibly only one meter across. It’s currently known as 2020 CD3, and it’s been in Earth’s orbit since around 2018. It has a chaotic orbit, which suggests it will only stay for a few months, and we’re not entirely sure what will happen to it. As tiny and insignificant as they may seem, they’re actually very important. The moons are basically ancient samples from the beginning of the solar system. The discovery itself is also a good example of how efficient we’ve become at finding things outside and near Earth’s atmosphere. This skill will help us to easier detect asteroids, and maybe even prevent them.

All these new discoveries are once again reshaping our previous thoughts, and adjusting our theories. For now, it’s time to get cozy and let them all sink in, along with our new friend 2020 CD3. This has been the Cosmic Talk, until next time!