Carnival of Space 367

The Carnival of Space 367 is up at Everyday Spacer

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured a spectacular event: a supermassive black hole’s gravity tugging on nearby X-ray light.

In just a matter of days, the corona — a cloud of particles traveling near the speed of light — fell in toward the black hole. The observations are a powerful test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which says gravity can bend space-time, the fabric that shapes our universe, and the light that travels through it.

Supermassive black holes are thought to reside in the centers of all galaxies. Some are more massive and rotate faster than others. The black hole in this new study, referred to as Markarian 335, or Mrk 335, is about 324 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the Pegasus constellation. It is one of the most extreme of the systems for which the mass and spin rate have ever been measured. The black hole squeezes about 10 million times the mass of our sun into a region only 30 times the diameter of the sun, and it spins so rapidly that space and time are dragged around with it.

Even though some light falls into a supermassive black hole never to be seen again, other high-energy light emanates from both the corona and the surrounding accretion disk of superheated material. Though astronomers are uncertain of the shape and temperature of coronas, they know that they contain particles that move close to the speed of light.

NASA’s Swift satellite has monitored Mrk 335 for years, and recently noted a dramatic change in its X-ray brightness. In what is called a target-of-opportunity observation, NuSTAR was redirected to take a look at high-energy X-rays from this source in the range of 3 to 79 kiloelectron volts. This particular energy range offers astronomers a detailed look at what is happening near the event horizon, the region around a black hole from which light can no longer escape gravity’s grasp.

Nextbigfuture – Falcon 9 rocket is putting payloads into orbit for less money than the big government contractors charge.

As one might expect, government officials who have such contractors in their own districts and states are unhappy with this. And apparently some are willing to smear SpaceX as retribution.

Nextbigfuture – Scaling systems for getting Oxygen and rocket fuel from the Mars atmoshere are examined. Robert Zubrin and others have looked closely at getting needed resources from the Mars atmosphere.

Nextbigfuture – Elon Musk is hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years. Elon think it is certainly possible for that to occur. He says the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multiplanetary.

Here I have combined various statements from Elon Musk with my own extrapolation of developments towards and eighty thousand person Mars City by 2040.

Spacex hopes to recover and reuse a first stage next year.

Spacex hopes to carry hopes the Dragon 2 will carry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as soon as 2016.

The seven person Dragon 2 capsule can land and be reused.

Musk’s schedule puts him well ahead of NASA, which is only talking about getting man to Mars by the 2030s – and then only if it can get billions in public funding and build a rocket big enough for the job. Musk’s Falcon Heavy booster is scheduled to fly within the next year, and will carry enough payload to make assembling a Mars spaceship possible.

After Spacex has developed a Mars vehicle and idealy flown it a few times then they will probably go public.

If the reusable Mars Colonial Transports (MCT) have begun taking people to Mars in 2026, then they would would be taking full loads of 100 people per trip by 2030. Averaging eighty Earth to Mars trips per year using Mars Colonial Transport would enable 80,000 people to be on Mars by 2040.

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