Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dance of Ghosts

This is not a visible light image, thus the ghostly aspect.  It is an X-ray portrait (I love the 50s sci-fi sound of the term "X-ray") of the center of the Abell 400 galaxy cluster, a dance of high energy particles as two massive black holes orbit each other.  These black holes  - the two bright dots at the center - are gravitationally bound and will one day collide, in a burst of gravitational waves and cosmic waves that will be seen and felt quite literally across the universe.

The plumes shooting along the diagonal of the image are jets of super-charged particles shooting out from the poles of the things.  The swept back appearance of the jets is due to both black holes rushing through a cloud of hot gas at 1200 kilometers per second.  Think of a smoker exhaling smoke out of the open window of a speeding car.

The Chandra X-Ray Observatory took the picture.


ArtSparker said...


meno said...

I see the face of Voldemort in that image. No, really, look again!

Clowncar said...

Yes, Art, it is.

meno, you're right, it does look a little like a nose-less Ralph Fiennes.

Laurita said...

very cool! It looks like some sort of space pixie.

Fresca said...

I love how outer space looks like some biological close-up or something deep in the sea.

Hilary said...

You post such cool things.

Clowncar said...

Laurita, space pixie is excellent. Space stuff looks so playful from this remove. Thought closer up the adjective might be "unimaginably violent." Glad it's a long ways away.

I hadn't thought of that, Fresca, but you are right, it looks much like one of those deep sea creatures with the luminescent lures right above their mouths.

Thanks Hil. You too. Except you take your own gorgeous pictures, I hafta steal them from NASA.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Isn't the universe a fascinating ever crashing-changing-growing-colliding-destroying-building-amazing life and death cyclical force?

I love it.

Great image.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore