Sunday, January 23, 2011

Thoughts On The Mind-Boggling Nature Of The Universe

With every revelation of the Hubble telescope, the universe appears ever more mind boggling. According to NASA, a massive black hole has been detected by the Hubble in the M84 galaxy:

"The Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph measured a velocity of 880,000 mph within 26 light-years of the galaxy's center. This measurement allowed astronomers to calculate that the black hole contains at least 300 million solar masses. M84 is located in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, 50 million light-years from Earth, and a nearby neighbor to the more massive M87 galaxy, which also contains an extremely massive black hole." (NASA)

Just think of it. We are but a speck in a quite small solar system "only" several hundred million miles across. Our solar system is among millions of other solar systems inside the Milky Way galaxy, which itself is only one galaxy among millions of other galaxies, of which M84 and M87 are just two. Those two galaxies are part of a cluster of galaxies called the Virgo Cluster, which itself is 50 million light years away from us.

Being that far away means it would take us 50 million years traveling at the speed of light (about 186,282 miles per second) to get there. We're talking a l-o-o-o-o-ng road trip: something like 293,729,457,600,000,000,000 miles. I wonder how long it would take someone to get there driving 60 miles per hour? OK. You can do the math.

Perhaps even more amazingly, on top of it all, the black hole discovered inside galaxy M84 contains the masses of more than 300 million suns. And, get this, according to the NASA report, in the middle of that galaxy velocities of 880,000 miles per hour have been measured. Such high velocities are apparently used by scientists to detect the presence of a black hole as well as the amount of stuff it has already sucked into itself.

Compared to the speed of light, 880,000 miles per hour is really way slow. But just think. Traveling at that speed, it would only take us around 15 minutes to get to our moon. This is definitely one of those "things that make you go "Hmmmm". The scope is almost beyond comprehension. If you ask me, in the overall scheme of things, whether or not the furniture got dusted this week is probably not worth worrying about.


  1. Hey Bill, YOUR work is mind-boggling. Loved your arithmetic rhyme too. My BW, the Education Tipster, loves your childrens books. The circulation celebration etc etc. Glad to meet you. I answered your comments on the Tarte aux Pommes.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Anthony. Always glad to hear my rhymes are resonating with new readers. My blogging happens in bunches, nudged along solely by the muse. With luck, there will be a new post the next time you stop by.