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Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transients

19 November 2023
Astronomy, cosmology

At https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-023-03569-3 … we have the headline, ‘mysterious tasmanian devil space explosion’ – baffles astronomers. The menagerie link is later expanded to ‘the Cow’ and ‘the Koala’ and even ‘the Finch’. It seems these transient events have been given a succession of odd names – and the latest apparition is the Tasmanian Devil, an extinct animal. There must be some virtual signalling bonus in using its name. Astronomers more properly call them Luminous Fast Blue Optical Transients – something that can be seen in telescopes for a brief span of time, very often over and over again. This is why the devil in the name is appropriate I suppose – Old Nick teasing the watching astronomers. It is basically a sequence of flashing light and can be extremely bright – repeated around a dozen times after the initial appearance. Whatever it is, it is not dead. It’s alive and kicking. What can they be?

They can be a hundred times brighter than a supernova – so difficult to ignore, even if they are brief, here today, and gone tomorrow. Astronomers do not know what causes them but as you would expect there are various lame theories involved. Supernova failures for example – degenerating into black holes by a short cut route. However, they disappear – perhaps the most tantalising aspect of them. Later, we are told by the authors, we think these flashes are probably coming from a neutron star or a black hole. Powerful jets of energy are firing from its poles – firing into space as the object rotates. In Electric Universe theory I am supposing this would be down to electric discharges of some kind.

At https://phys.org/news/2023-11-black-holes-consume-entropy.html … entropy is a concept we are told, and it is here applied to black holes. Black Hole entropy. It is difficult to explain in plain speak as it is so mathematical. Perhaps that is giving the game away. Physicists, we are told, employ entropy to black holes because they are untidy. Sometimes black holes are simply a bundle of entropy = lots of untidiness. A lot of conjecture, perhaps. Why did Nature choose black holes to contain the most entropy, they ask. I might wonder if Nature had anything to do with it as it is all in the minds of cosmologists. They might try some self diagnosis. It seems as if we are being told that not only do black holes consume matter, virtually of any description, and incredibly, invisibly. They also consume entropy.  The piece ends by telling us black holes, for various reasons, that we still do not yet fathom, defy the common sense intuitive picture. You bet they do.

At https://phys.org/news/2023-11-black-hole-paradox.html … the origins of the black hole information paradox. Back in the 1970s Steven Hawking discovered the secret complexities of the event horizon – at the perimeter of black holes. It seems the event horizon was where gravity met quantum mechanics – in a manifest way. The quest to unify quantum mechanics with gravity has been elusive. What prevented it was the affinities of mathematics. However, at the boundary of black holes, which by definition are places with strong gravity, was suggested as a aplace to look in the hope of overcoming the problems. However, event horizons are themselves mathematical constructs, not real actual surfaces with a finite extent. In order to truly understand them we must look at the situation microscopically. That puts them in the reach of quantum. There you have it.

If you are not up to speed there is more. It goes on to say that Hawking went on to find something extraordinary about black holes. They were not stricktly totally black. They emitted radiation. Not a lot of it mind, an extremely small quantity. As radiation is energy what are they sayingf? Do black holes emit energy? Unfortunately, they then tell us that the amount of radiation, and therefore nergy, emitted by black holes is almost zero. It is also featureless. One may then wonder if that radiation in actuality exists. A lot of words without a firm conclusion. I suppose that sums up black holes in their entirety.

Note .. I was a bit surprised by the last section as I thought that in recent times bursts of energy have been seen emerging out of black holes. The two things are contradictory. The above is the theoretical version but the bursts of energy are the observation of what is thought to be the hidey hole of a black hole in the heart of our galaxy. I’m scratching my head.



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