The University of Texas at Austin
  • Astronomer quoted by Associated Press

    By Tara Chandler
    Published: Jan. 24, 2008
    Astronomer

    The deeper astronomers gaze into the cosmos, the more they find it’s a bizarre and violent universe. The research findings from this week’s annual meeting of U.S. astronomers range from blue orphaned baby stars to menacing “rogue” black holes that roam our galaxy, devouring any planets unlucky enough to be within their limited reach. “It’s an odd universe we live in,” said Vanderbilt University astronomer Kelly Holley-Bockelmann. She presented her theory on rogue black holes at the American Astronomical Society’s meeting in Austin, Texas, earlier this week. It should be noted that she’s not worried and you shouldn’t be either. The odds of one of these black holes swallowing up Earth or the sun or wreaking other havoc is somewhere around 1 in 10 quadrillion in any given year. “This is the glory of the universe,” added J. Craig Wheeler, president of the astronomy association. “What is odd and what is normal is changing.” Just five years ago, astronomers were gazing at a few thousand galaxies where stars formed in a bizarre and violent manner. Now the number is in the millions, thanks to more powerful telescopes and supercomputers to crunch the crucial numbers streaming in from space, said Wheeler, a University of Texas astronomer. Scientists are finding that not only are they improving their understanding of the basic questions of the universe – such as how did it all start and where is it all going – they also keep stumbling upon unexpected, hard-to-explain cosmic quirks and the potential, but comfortably distant, dangers. Much of what they keep finding plays out like a stellar version of a violent Quentin Tarantino movie. The violence surrounds and approaches Earth, even though our planet is safe and “in a pretty quiet neighborhood,” said Wheeler, author of the book “Cosmic Catastrophes.”

    The Associated Press
    Astronomers Describe Violent Universe
    Jan. 11

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