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The Ripper

30 April 2015

At http://phys.org/print348473351.html … NASAs Chandra X-ray Observatory is thought to have witnessed a white dwarf star rip apart a planet which came too close. The piece claims gravity was to blame. A white dwarf is a failing star which has shrunk (or that is the thinking) – and though smaller and more dense it can pack a stiff punch. Hence, the pull of its gravity is strong.

Chandra also looked at a black hole and apparently the x-rays emitted came not from the hole itself (or the region attributed to a hole) but somewhat to the side.

This brings us to http://phys.org/print349419011.html … which concerns a book on black holes. Martia Bartusiak, 'Black Hole' Yale University Press – which presses all the mainstream buttons. If you can get hold of a library specimen of the book it would be worth reading as it provides the history of the idea of a black hole, an idea that stemmed from general relativity. It provided a means to reinvigorate the theory of general relativity, it is claimed, which most people would not know, given how much status the theory has nowadays. She actually goes all the way back to John Michell (1724-1793) and Subrahmanyan Chandrsekhar (early 20th century) for the roots of the idea, followed by Robert Oppenheimer (1930s) and the modern version (1960s) of various others. It doesn't seem to say much about the reality of black holes – but this is probably due to reading an abstract rather than the book itself.

At http://phys.org/print349427979.html … is an interesting piece about how fire behaves in space – which is vital as spaceships and satellites are so common nowadays and one sloppy mistake could spell disaster.

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