We stand at beginning of a new era. Gravitational waves have been detected by LIGO coming from a pair of black holes colliding (wow, it feels good to type that). Gravitational wave astronomy is firmly a reality — in the official, peer-reviewed sense of the word.
I’m incredibly lucky to have found myself in the midst of it all, a tiny part of the team that made the first direct gravitational wave detection. But what does it all mean? Continue reading
2013 looks set to be an interesting year for those of us residing in the Milky Way (page view stats indicate this applies to the majority of visitors to this blog). In the middle of this year, the supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy will be paid a visit by a cloud of gas with a mass three times that of the Earth. This could result in a bright flare of X-rays if some of this gas falls too near the black hole and is consumed, allowing us to probe the environment around it better than ever before. But how do we know there’s a black hole there in the first place, and why won’t this gas just get gobbled up without a trace?