18 November 2010

Did The Media Miss The Boat on the Youngest Black Hole?

Posted by Dan Satterfield

You likely heard about it a few days ago. NASA announced the detection of a supernova turning into a black hole. It was big news and justifiably so.

The story starts back in 1979 when an amateur astronomer observed a supernova. It was the third one seen in 1979 and thus named 1979C. Yes all that astronomical numbering is real complicated you know;).

You probably know that a supernova marks the end of a star’s life when it explodes. Only big stars go out this way and our star (aka the sun) will die a rather wimpy death as a red giant. Supernova 1979C was a star big enough to explode. A star has to be around 8 times more massive than the sun to do this.

A young graduate student named Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar is the person who first worked this out. His friends called him Chandra and now you know how the famous x-ray telescope got it’s name.

So how did Astrophysicists work out that supernova 1979c has become a black hole? Look at the pics..

Location of supernova 1979c in a galaxy 50 million light years from Earth. These are all NASA/Chandra images.

If you look at this area with just x-ray light you see a very bright star.

X-Ray images show strong radiation coming from the location of the 1979 supernova.

What if we look in the infra-red?

Nothing shows of the 1979 supernova in IR imagery.

The visible light wavelengths show nothing either.

Look left of the letter "N". Since the intense gravity of a black hole keeps even light from escaping, the only clue to it's presence is the x-rays given off by matter as it gets sucked in.

So the experts with the Chandra telescope (One of whom is my neighbor) have deduced that the star that produced supernova 1979C has collapsed into a black hole.

At least that’s the story that appears in the press releases, and the peer reviewed journals. Is there something missing here from the main stream TV and newspaper reports?

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, let’s explore further.

Surely, the press could have found an astrophysicist somewhere who does not believe in black holes!  Back in the 1960’s there were plenty of reports with scientists calling the idea preposterous!

I have found several pages on the Internet where people are calling everything to do with black holes “liberal pseudoscience“. Why did we not see any of their quotes in the press?

No one has stolen the emails of these astrophysicists, so I guess the papers could not publish them, but what might they show? Could they be hiding something? Are the media missing supernova-gate?

What about the fact that this black hole is 50 million light years away. The whole event happened way before humans invented the telescope. So, if that’s the case, how could we possibly detect it!

Isn’t there a petition out there signed by hundreds veterinarians, MD’s and retired chemists. You know, the one signed by all those bonafide scientists who think this is all a hoax.  It’s obviously a ploy to get more funding for astronomy!

Nope, nothing about any of that in the press reports. Not even a quote from a scientist in another field who has never published a paper on black holes.

How about the public? Don’t they get a say? How many really believe we can even see something that happened 50 million years ago in a galaxy far, far away?

It seems to me that many in the media need to take an example from their coverage of climate science and publish the real truth.

Should the Congress hold hearings? It will be easy to get scientists who have spent a lifetime learning the complicated math of astrophysics, and written  dozens of papers in such prestigious journals as Science and Nature.

Oh yes, the black hole alarmists will all say it’s based on peer reviewed science, but Congress will need to find someone on the other side of the issue. That should be easy enough. Just google the phrase “Moon Landing Hoax” and follow the lead.

Plenty of experts there!

I look forward to the entire story of supernova-gate being published soon.

This post is dedicated to those climate researchers (Like my acquaintance Dr. Ben Santer of LLNL) who were accused, with flimsy evidence, of being liars and worse. ALL have now been totally cleared. Why was that fact buried deep in a broadsheet (or not even reported) by many of those who made the accusations?