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Latest Kevin Schawinski Stories

Many Quasars Are Light Eaters
2012-06-20 04:20:53

Black holes in the early universe needed a few snacks rather than one giant meal to fuel their quasars and help them grow, according to observations from NASA's Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. Quasars are the brilliant beacons of light that are powered by black holes feasting on captured material, and in the process, heating some of the matter to millions of degrees. The brightest quasars reside in galaxies distorted by collisions with other galaxies. These encounters send lots of gas...

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2011-06-13 14:22:44

Portrayed in movies and on television most often as gateways to another dimension or cosmic vacuum cleaners sucking up everything in sight, the misconceptions surrounding black holes are many and varied. In reality, black holes form when, at the end of their life cycle, heavy stars collapse into a supernova. After a black hole forms, it can continue to grow by absorbing its surroundings. By absorbing other stars and merging with other black holes, giant black holes -- called supermassive --...

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2010-11-04 11:10:00

Suzanne Taylor Muzzin, Yale University While sorting through hundreds of galaxy images as part of the Galaxy Zoo citizen science project two years ago, Dutch schoolteacher and volunteer astronomer Hanny van Arkel stumbled upon a strange-looking object that baffled professional astronomers. Two years later, a team led by Yale University researchers has discovered that the unique object represents a snapshot in time that reveals surprising clues about the life cycle of black holes. In a new...

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2009-01-22 09:51:30

A team of Yale University astronomers has discovered that galaxies stop forming stars long before their central supermassive black holes reach their most powerful stage, meaning the black holes can't be responsible for shutting down star formation. Until recently, astronomers believed that active galactic nuclei (AGN)"”the supermassive, extremely energetic black holes at the centers of many young galaxies"”were responsible for shutting down star formation in their host galaxies...

2008-08-06 18:00:06

A Dutch schoolteacher taking part in an online research project has discovered a gaseous object that astronomers say is of unknown origin. Hanny van Arkel was one of more than 150,000 volunteer amateur astronomers who last year helped classify more than 1 million images on the Web site galaxyzoo.org. She reported she was unable to classify an irregular, green, glowing object. Yale astrophysicist Kevin Schawinski and colleagues at Oxford University say van Arkel might have found a new...

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2008-08-06 08:45:00

Even though it was discovered by a Dutch primary school teacher it's not a fairytale, in fact, it's a "cosmic ghost" that could possibly represent a new class of astronomical objects. While volunteering with the Galaxy Zoo project - which enlists the public to help classify galaxies online - the 25 year old teacher Hanny van Arkel, discovered the strange, gaseous object with a hole in the middle. "At first, we had no idea what it was. It could have been in our solar system, or at the edge...

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2008-06-13 14:15:00

Scientists on Thursday were given a unique glimpse into how a supernova forms when they witnessed, for the first time, the flash of light produced inside a dying star just before it explodes.The astronomers said the red supergiant, more than 500 times more massive than the Earth's own sun, was destroyed after its core collapsed and a deadly shock wave of energy completely blew it up.This marks the first time that scientists have been able to observe the afterglow of a burst while knowing...


Word of the Day
humgruffin
  • A terrible or repulsive person.
Regarding the etymology of 'humgruffin,' the OED says (rather unhelpfully) that it's a 'made-up word.' We might guess that 'hum' comes from 'humbug' or possibly 'hum' meaning 'a disagreeable smell,' while 'gruffin' could be a combination of 'gruff' and 'griffin.'