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Mass of a huge supermassive black hole calculated with precision by astronomers

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What happens in a black hole? It is not yet known whether the theories are different. For the moment we have to settle for studying what happens in the “sphere of influence” of a black hole, ie the inner region closest to the “edge” of the black hole itself which is not part of the event horizon, that area beyond the which also the light can no longer leave.

A group of scholars is going to use this with the Aracama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA) to study this specific region of influence of the supermassive black hole located in the center of the galaxy NGC 3258. The latter is an elliptical galaxy that is located at a distance of about 100 million light-years from us.

The researchers determined the “weight” of the supermassive black hole: 2.25 billion solar masses. This is the most massive black hole measured with ALMA and one of the most massive but identified.

Researchers have shown that with this telescope it is possible to “map the rotation of gaseous discs around supermassive black holes with extraordinary details,” as reported by Benjamin Boizelle, a researcher at Texas A&M University as well as the principal author of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Thanks to these “extraordinary details,” they calculated the weight of the black hole with a precision of better than 1%, a measurement that is considered as one of the most precise black hole mass measurements ever made for a black hole beyond outside the Milky Way.

The same data also shows that the speed of rotation of the disk around the black hole ranges from one million miles per hour in the outer edge, located at a distance of about 500 light-years from the black hole, up to three million miles per hour in the most central regions, at a distance of just 65 light-years from the black hole.

Julie Smith

I am a journalist with extensive experience working with different organizations in Kentucky, starting out as an editor with The Paducah Sun and later joining The Louisville Times. I am very happy to have joined The Chunk as a volunteer contributor, and submit research and content during my spare time. I am a long term subscriber to Nature and Scientific American, and frequently read up on new scientific research.

1263 Cerullo Road, Louisville Kentucky, 40244
502-375-7899
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Julie Smith
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Nuclei of half-destroyed planets from stars detectable by radio telescopes

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There are stars that, after burning all their “fuel,” turn into so-called “white dwarfs” but project their outer layers outward before performing this transformation. This material, projected at very high speed, destroys nearby objects and also strongly damages the planets by removing the outer layers of the latter in addition to the atmospheres.

According to a study by researchers at the University of Warwick, published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, the remaining nuclei of these planets can “survive” for a necessary time, from 100 million to a billion years, so that they can be detected by our telescopes.

This is not an absolute novelty: already in the early 90s, Alexander Wolszczan of Pennsylvania State University discovered one of these planets around a pulsar using a method to detect radio waves emitted by the star.

Researchers at the University of Warwick intend to improve this method to detect the magnetic field that forms between a white dwarf and a planetary nucleus in orbit around it. The magnetic field can, in fact, form a unipolar inductor circuit in which the remaining nucleus of the planet acts as a conductor thanks to the fact that inside the nucleus there are more than anything metallic compounds.

This is a real circuit whose radiations are emitted as radio waves that can be detected by terrestrial radio telescopes. Among other things, an effect of this kind has already been noted between Jupiter and one of his moons, Io.

According to Dimitri Veras, one of the authors of the study, “There is a weak point to detect these planetary nuclei: a nucleus too close to the white dwarf would be destroyed by tidal forces and a nucleus too far away would not be detectable. Also, if the magnetic field is too strong, it would push the core into the white dwarf, destroying it. Therefore, we should only look for planets around the white dwarf ones with weaker magnetic fields at a distance of about 3 solar rays, the distance Mercury-Sun.”

In any case, finding the only nucleus of a “naked” planet would represent a very important discovery that would help to discover the history of star systems as well as allowing you to take a look at the future history of our solar system and specifically of our planet which should not be very different.

Julie Smith

I am a journalist with extensive experience working with different organizations in Kentucky, starting out as an editor with The Paducah Sun and later joining The Louisville Times. I am very happy to have joined The Chunk as a volunteer contributor, and submit research and content during my spare time. I am a long term subscriber to Nature and Scientific American, and frequently read up on new scientific research.

1263 Cerullo Road, Louisville Kentucky, 40244
502-375-7899
[email protected]
Julie Smith
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Scientists discover genes involved in the life extension of fruit flies

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A group of Russian geneticists studied the Drosophila melanogaster, also called “fruit fly,” a model organism widely used in the research world as its genome is very well known and contains genes related to 40% of human diseases.

Moreover other characteristics, like the duration of the life of only a couple of months and the fact that this insect has two sexes, unlike other creatures like the nematodes, push more and more the researchers to use them during the experiments in order then to make correlations with the human beings. It is also the case of this study, published in Scientific Reports, which analyzed the genetic activity of the fruit fly to better understand the biology underlying the aging of its longevity.

Specifically, they used a Drosophila strain bred with the partially suppressed E (z) gene. It is a gene that influences the activity of other genes. The flies with this mutated gene show a considerably longer lifespan than the others and present greater resistance to adverse environmental conditions.

The researchers not only confirmed the positive effect of this mutation that allows fruit flies to extend their lives by 22-23% but they also discovered a positive effect on fertility as Alexey Moskalev, one of the authors of the study, explains: “It is known that in Drosophila, the extension of lifespan induced by mutation is often associated with reduced reproduction. But in our case, we have seen an increase in mutant female fertility in all age groups.”

They then discovered 239 genes involved in the mutation as well as in the midge’s metabolism as the scientist himself explains: “We found that the mutation triggers a global alteration of metabolism. It affects carbohydrate metabolism, lipid metabolism and nucleotide metabolism, as well as the activity of the immune response genes and protein synthesis.”

Important information that could be useful for further research regarding the extension of the life of these flies and in general concerns aging and metabolism linked to human longevity.

Julie Smith

I am a journalist with extensive experience working with different organizations in Kentucky, starting out as an editor with The Paducah Sun and later joining The Louisville Times. I am very happy to have joined The Chunk as a volunteer contributor, and submit research and content during my spare time. I am a long term subscriber to Nature and Scientific American, and frequently read up on new scientific research.

1263 Cerullo Road, Louisville Kentucky, 40244
502-375-7899
[email protected]
Julie Smith
Continue Reading

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Mini human liver created in the laboratory to simulate diseases and study them

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Miniature cultured human liver labs were created by a group of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The “mini livers” could help to simulate the progressions of various liver diseases and therefore to test their therapies.

The researchers transformed genetically modified human skin cells into 3D liver tissue in “stripped” mouse livers of their own cells. Real functional 3D mini livers have therefore blossomed in the laboratory with lots of blood vessels and structural features of a normal human liver.

Researchers have already managed to mimic in particular non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This condition sees the accumulation of fatty parts in the liver, a condition which in turn leads to very serious diseases such as cirrhosis or liver failure.

This is the first time that genetically modified human “mini livers” are created, as recalled by Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, professor of pathology in Pittsburgh and senior author of the study. This is an important result because very often the experiments that are carried out on animals, mainly on mice, even if promising, do not turn out to be effective in clinical studies on humans.

This is because, of course, “mice are not human,” as Soto-Gutierrez himself recalls. There are some important differences between us and them, including mutations that predispose us to specific diseases, which is not possible to study in mice.

Julie Smith

I am a journalist with extensive experience working with different organizations in Kentucky, starting out as an editor with The Paducah Sun and later joining The Louisville Times. I am very happy to have joined The Chunk as a volunteer contributor, and submit research and content during my spare time. I am a long term subscriber to Nature and Scientific American, and frequently read up on new scientific research.

1263 Cerullo Road, Louisville Kentucky, 40244
502-375-7899
[email protected]
Julie Smith
Continue Reading

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