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Twisted Physics

The Haunting of HDF 130

8 Jul 2009, 04:52 UTC
The Haunting of HDF 130 NASA/Chandra X-Ray Observatory
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Some 10 billion light years away is a mysterious "X ray source" that dates back to a mere 3 billion years after the Big Bang -- right when lots of galaxies and blacks were forming. It seems to be a kind of "cosmic ghost" lurking around a distant black hole, according to scientists with NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory mission. We're not talking "ghost" as in that 1990s Patrick Swayze movie; this is lingering evidence of a huge eruption from a black hole. That's what Cambridge University's Andy Fabian thinks, anyway. "We'd seen this fuzzy object a few years ago but didn't realize until now that we were seeing a ghost," he says. "It's not out there to haunt us, rather it's telling us something -- in this case, what was happening in this galaxy billions of years ago."Sounds kind of like an "actual" (and I use that term loosely) ghost to me -- they're always trying to solve their own murders or reveal secrets of the past. In this case, the "ghost" is the X-ray remnant "afterglow" of a power explosion from the central black hole -- so big, it would have been the equivalent of a billion supernovae. That ...

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