Black Holes and their Spin

There are two basic characteristics that describe black holes: Mass and Spin. Mass determines the size of the event horizon, the gravitational mass, and many of the ways the black hole can gravitationally shred people, planets and just about anything else. Spin is related to the magnetic field (which can also shred people because of the magnetic properties of water), and it exerts many relativistic effects on its surrounding, such as frame dragging. Black hole spin also allows the black hole’s associated accretion disk to extend closer in toward the event horizon, creating a (with future higher resolution telescopes) a directly imaginable effect.

In a trio of spin related press releases, scientists described how to measure spin, the consequences spin has on how black holes merge, and results on a test to check if our understanding is wrong.

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All that’s sorta new in Exoplanets

Yesterday’s big afternoon press conference was all about exoplanets. The scientists took us on a tour de force of planet related press releases that went from little M stars and their tiny habitable zone, to a new press release on 28 planets, to planets found around sub-giant stars that were A-stars when they were on the main sequence. The catch was, while none of these stories had previously had related press releases, many of them (but not all) had related published papers or published pre-prints in the arXiv pre-print sever.

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Galactic Morning: Andromeda XII, M81, and a Pushy Void

Galactic Morning: Andromeda XII, M81, and a Pushy Void

m81.jpgThis mornings first press conference spanned the scales of the Universe. From a high speed dwarf galaxy only 1/20,000 times the size of our galaxy, to a new picture of M81 (a nearby spiral galaxy – image shown), to information on how a lack of gravitational pull is causing the local group to wander away a local void, the scientists took us on a wild ride through the universe.

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An Apple World

An Apple World

appleworld.jpgShort message while I write longer content on this mornings first, galaxy rich, press conference.

This I walked into the press conference room and their was a giant, fresh from the press, printed Hubble Heritage image off to the side. Okay that’s cool.

What really caught my eye was the three scientists and their three Apple laptops.
And, at the back of the room, Apple affiliated folks (not sure, but I think Apple Employees) were recording the press conference to be podcast at some future date (will link when I know where to link to).

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The search for Chotchkies and Bling-Bling

One of the odd side activities at AAS meetings is the search for neat give aways from the different space missions, companies, and publishers. These items generally take the form of lanyards, pens, and posters. I picked up something kind of new and neat and just in time for pool parties last night : A WMAP beach ball depicting the cosmic microwave background. I’ll now be able to toss the fingerprint of the big bang around my classroom or back yard. There was also a happy cheerful button that proclaimed “I’m a Scientist” with a telescope and satellite.

And this was just at a pre-meeting dinner.

Currently, it’s looking like I should have brought a bigger bag.

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