Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"That is no moon"

Greetings Starfighter! You have been recruited by the Star League
to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.

Apparently, we don't know everything. Astronomers have discovered an "object" in space and are unable to identify it. That part seems reasonable; my shitty old camera used to produce unidentifiable pictures of lots of stuff right here on earth. This thing, however, appeared one day in a flash of light and then faded out over 100 days. Now it is gone. Which is odd. Observe the damning pixels after the break:

It is like a cosmic nipple-slip and we are interstellar paparazzi. 

So, if we don't know what it actually was, what was it similar too? The scientists working on the Supernova Cosmology Project who discovered and observed the object have written a paper (available as a PDF here) slated to appear in the Astrophysical Journal. Alan Robert over at Sky and Telescope apparently read the actual paper and offers this summary of the observations:
On February 21, 2006, in the direction of a far-away cluster in Bootes named CL 1432.5+3332.8 (redshift 1.112, light travel time 8.2 billion years), Hubble began seeing something brighten. It continued brightening for about 100 days and peaked at 21st magnitude in two near-infrared colors. It then faded away over a similar timescale, until nothing was left in view[...] 
Riveting stuff. Sounds like an explosion to me, but what do I know? It takes me an hour to set up my stereo system's various wires and whatnot since the manual is too technical for me. If there is some interstellar space-war going on, it probably happened long ago. A long, long time ago, even. In a galaxy far away.

The comments section is amusing as well, by the way, with tons of intellectual smack-down going on, like this comment from my man Doc Gottfried:
I don't know what that object might be, but I do know that you gave the wrong distance of the cluster CL 1432.5+3332.8 ! Its redshift is 1.112; the cosmology calculators then tell us that its proper distance is now 11.7 billion lightyears and that the distance at emission was 5.54 billion lightyears. The number you report (8.2 billion) is the light travel TIME!
OH, SNAP! Your numbers are weak like ketchup. Maybe you can get your Mom to teach you to use a scientific calculator. She knows how to solve for n when x = my balls.

No comments: