BAN #81: NASA’s Administrator on Twitter, A tiny lovely spiral
January 21, 2019 Issue #81
|Phil Plait||Jan 21, 2019|
Subscribers accrete hope in the gravity well of my heart.
Space is big. That’s why we call it “space”
So, this happened.
Under normal circumstances I’d be thrilled, but mitigating this a little bit is that I have had issues with actions taken by Administrator Bridenstine in the past, where he was a full-bore climate change denier. By the time he was nominated for NASA Administrator he hadn’t backed down from that opinion, at least not publicly, so I was against his nomination.
However, since then, he has made statements on several occasions that he now agrees with the scientific consensus. Because of this I am giving him the benefit of a doubt, but I’m still somewhat wary. If he’s being honest, then good on him, and I mean that very sincerely. But if this is lip service, then I’ll be ready to make a lot of noise when that becomes clear. Until that time: doubt benefit.
Still, I’ll note he supports SLS and Orion, which isn’t surprising, given that’s his job as well, and I most certainly do not. But I don’t think there’s much any of us can do to stem the tide of billions being poured into that project, wasteful as I think it may be.
So, no matter, I will try to use this wisely. I won’t shrink when he does something that deviates from what I think is right, nor will I hesitate to support him when he does do what I think is right. And I most certainly hope that the decisions he makes are ones I can support.
Pic o’ the Letter
A cool or lovely or mind-bending astronomical image/video with a short description so you can grok it
I normally post big, splashy images of galaxies in this space, but I found one that I just love even though it’s neither big nor splashy.
[Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA]
It’s a face-on spiral about 400 million light years away, a considerable distance, so it’s not as full-frame as many spirals you see in Hubble images like this one. It’s an active galaxy, one with a black hole in its center that’s actively gobbling down material and blasting out vast amounts of energy — the accreting material swirls around the black hole, heats up, and gets very bright. Astronomers think the black hole in this galaxy may be smaller than usual; there’s a trend that galaxies with smaller central bulges (the roughly spherical ball of stars around the center of spirals) have smaller black holes. 2XMM J143450.5+033843 has a small bulge, so they’re hoping the black hole in its core is an elusive intermediate mass black hole, with less than a million times the mass of the Sun.
If you’re wondering about the name, it indicates it was seen in the second sky survey done by the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory, and the J and numbers represent its coordinates on the sky. It has been seen in other observations as well and, like many objects, has multiple designations.
But a rose by any other name, eh? It still looks as pretty.
What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI
Monday Jan. 14, 2019: Amazing video: Chinese lander and rover descend to the Moon’s far side!
Tuesday Jan. 15, 2019: Huge asymmetric exploding space cow!
Wednesday Jan. 16, 2019: Rocky worlds around red dwarfs may get blasted clean of water
Thursday Jan. 17, 2019: How to watch this weekend’s total lunar eclipse — the last one for two years!
Friday Jan. 18, 2019: A quasar at the edge of the observable Universe shines with the light of 10 trillion Suns!
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