April 5, 2006 at 6:35 am #12399
Thanks to downunder astrologer Russel Neill for spotting this one.
Note: I always find the parallels between outer science and inner spiritual science fascinating.
Matter always reflects the patterns of the cosmic energy body and its cycles.
Latest is Helix shape found at the center of the galaxy. Striahgt magnetic lines are emitted from the central black hole, but they get twisted by yin-yang forces spinning around them as they emerge into this dimension.
Just like our own little galactic centers (dantian) and core channel get rotated into DNA helix shapes and spinning left and right core channels around the straight/core center.
This is yin-yang-yuan relationship we’ve been discussing in the Philosophy section.
The centre of the galaxy
Saturday 25 March 2006
Professor Mark Morris from the UCLA Galactic Center Group, describes their latest finding; a helical structure at the galactic centre. He explains what might twist the magnetic field in this way.
Mark Morris: Almost every observation thats been made shows something curious and unusual going on there. Because the galactic centre is hidden nothing happened until the 60s and 70s when radio and infrared astronomy really got going and could peer through the dust that blocks our light from there. And then what they saw was a dense cluster of stars and they saw strong radio emission emanating from violent events, presumably, taking place there. And the closer one looks the more one can appreciate that its a rich arena full of all sorts of things going on that are fairly rare elsewhere in the galaxy but concentrated there.
Robyn Williams: A pretty violent place?
Mark Morris: Very violent, but not always. Right now its quiescent but theres all sorts of damage left behind from the last episodes. Some of them may have been relatively recent, within the last thousand years or so, but certainly within the last ten million years theres all sorts of havoc has been unleashed in the galactic centre, largely, presumably, because of the presence of the central supermassive black hole.
Robyn Williams: And what about the number of stars is it a dense place down there?
Mark Morris: Very dense. Every star we see in our night time sky here now, thered be a million stars from a perspective of someone sitting in the centre of the galaxy. So the night time sky would just be full of bright luminous stellar emission.
Robyn Williams: So that paradox that we heard about, you know, why isnt our own dark sky lit up like a sheet of white, that in fact is no longer a paradox there, it is lit up.
Mark Morris: Yes, thats right, it would be hard paradox for someone living in the galactic centre to raise because the sky would be so bright. Although theres a lot of dust in and around the galactic centre and thats one of the other extremes of this region is that its jammed pack with dense interstellar clouds of matter, and those tend to be dark, opaque, looming objects which can block light, so the night time sky would be patchy with these large clouds.
Robyn Williams: And presumably, since the 60s and 70s youve been looking yourself?
Mark Morris: Ive been looking myself since the 70s, its always attracted me as a really curious place to peer at. I was in the first wave of people able to really look at the galactic centre and start to see whats there.
Robyn Williams: What were amongst the first discoveries you made?
Mark Morris: In the 70s people recognised that there was this, what we call now the central molecular zone. The centre of our galaxy has this reservoir of molecular gas in the form of giant clouds of what we would regard as relatively dense gas orbiting the centre, far more concentrated there than anywhere else in the galaxy, and that is what we were studying in the 70s. This is gas that could in principle form stars; if it were anywhere else in the galaxy it would be forming stars copiously, but in the galactic centre its forming stars in a different way. And thats one of the things thats interesting about the galactic centre, is that it tends to not form stars until it goes over some threshold and then it forms gigantic clusters of stars all at once, in one fell swoop.
Robyn Williams: When you talk about gigantic clouds of gas and gigantic clusters – how big?
Mark Morris: Well, the clouds themselves range up to several million times the mass of the Sun. The clusters that form out of these clouds are big by the standards of most of the clusters like the Pleiades that we can see in the sky. The Archers clusters is the one thats, sort of, the youngest and brightest at the moment. It seems to have ten or twenty thousand times the mass of the Sun in it now, its only a few million years old, very compact, striking to look at because you see all these very bright stars, each fifty or a hundred times as massive as our Sun, shining with a brightness thats a hundred thousand or up to a million times the brightness of our Sun. And all of these stars packed together in one small place.
Robyn Williams: Awesome. It reminds me to some extent of a picture of the centre of the universe let alone the centre of a galaxy.
Mark Morris: Thats right, we live in a pretty ordinary galaxy and the fact that our own galactic centre looks so spectacular tells us that if we could see other galactic nuclei as well as we could see ours wed have a really impressive show.
Robyn Williams: What are the dynamics of that centre, you say its slightly quiescent at the moment but when its being busy, when its being active, can you see most of that stuff, all that dense stuff being sucked up by the big black hole, eventually?
Mark Morris: All that gas thats present there can, and apparently sometimes does, spiral into an accretion disc spiralling around the central black hole and that black hole can literally eat the gaseous matter that is spiralling around it, and as it does so it emits vast amounts of energy. That energy can blow clouds away, it can light up the whole nuclear region, it comes out as X-rays, gamma rays as well as just light, infrared or optical.
Robyn Williams: And there in the journal Nature this week is published their picture of a giant double helix. And this is how Professor Morris and his colleagues found it.
Mark Morris: Its as very large array, its capable of making what are called radiographs, which are literally radio pictures. And in fact some of the pictures are extremely high resolution, very, very striking pictures, and in these pictures we see some phenomena that we dont see anywhere else, such as linear filaments of radio emission that are hundreds of light years long. And what is of most recent interest to me, were starting to see structures not in the radio but in the infrared that are helical in morphology.
Robyn Williams: Why do you think theyre helical?
Mark Morris: Well, I think theyre helical because the magnetic field of the galactic centre is involved. The galactic centre has a magnetic field which is maybe as much as a thousand times stronger than the magnetic field elsewhere in the galaxy. In the galactic centre theres so much magnetic energy and the magnetic field is so strong that the magnetic field can push these clouds around. The energy of the magnetic field can be unleashed in various ways that we get a glimpse of when we look at the surface of the Sun and see all these magnetic storms going on. Thats the kind of thing that might happen on scales that are a billion times larger than the sun in the galactic centre.
Robyn Williams: And what about your latest findings, just published?
Mark Morris: Well, what we saw with the Spitzer Space Telescope looking at far infrared wavelengths was this helical structure that is itself about a hundred light years in extent, and a helical structure is roughly what one can expect from a magnetic field thats been twisted. Its like twisting a rubber band, after a while the twisted rubber band will take on a helical shape. Magnetic field lines have tension in them just like a rubber band does, and so the question becomes, what is twisting the magnetic field at the galactic centre. Most of the magnetic field is just straight and linear but something there is locally twisting it. Well, we have a perfect candidate for that, and thats the disc of gas thats orbiting around the central black hole. Theres this prominent disc, which we call the circumnuclear disc that orbits around the central black hole for a period of about once every ten thousand years, and if the magnetic fields of the galactic centre were attached to this rotating disc it would be like holding vertical strings on a record player turntable and as the turntable turns those strings would wind up, and thats precisely whats happening, we think, to the magnetic field in the galactic centre. This wave of twisting magnetic field is propagating out of the centre of the galaxy, its called a torsional wave.
Robyn Williams: Its impossible, but if you did send a spacecraft to that vicinity, which would take about a zillion years, it wouldnt survive five seconds?
Mark Morris: Well, that galactic centre is an awfully hostile place because of the high energies of X-rays and gamma rays that are there. But it may not in fact be all that much more hostile than the radiation belts of Jupiter through which we have to routinely send our spacecraft, and therefore we have to harden them to be able to survive this. So I think given some time on our hands and enough will we could probably harden spacecraft enough to go through that environment, but you wouldnt want to be there when the black hole at the galactic centre decides its time to eat lunch, because then as it excretes matter it would belt out so much energy that it would perhaps vaporise anything like a spacecraft that happened to wander too close to it.
Guests on this program:
Professor Physics and Astronomy
University of California
Presenter: Robyn Williams
Producer: Polly Rickard and David Fisher
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