Category Archives: Mysteries & Surprises

Reports on strange and unexpected discoveries about Outer Space. May have been solved or re-assessed by now.

(Image: A relatively close spiral galaxy)

Massive Monsters Mash Models (of universe evolution)

A net friend alerted me to the article “Galactic Monster Mystery Revealed in Ancient Universe” (Nov. 19, 2015, by Ian O’Neill). The “monsters” involved are massive galaxies. There are lots of massive galaxies in the universe. What makes these such monstrous mysteries is that they are very far away, and (given the time it would take light to travel so far) we’re seeing them as they were (or would have been) billions of years ago, so long ago that the earliest are said to be at the stage when the universe was just one billion years old: “This selection of massive galaxies all seem to have formed no earlier than around 1 billion years after the Big Bang;” Continue reading Massive Monsters Mash Models (of universe evolution)

Black Holes, Gravity Waves, and Unending Gaps

First, two news stories.

First up: “Black hole is 30 times bigger than expected” By Amanda Barnett, CNN, Updated 8:04 PM ET, Sat September 26, 2015

“This shouldn’t be possible. Researchers say they’ve detected a supermassive black hole at the center of a newly found galaxy that’s far bigger than current theories allow.” As the title indicates, specifically it’s about 30 times larger than a galaxy the size of the one it’s in should be able to form. Wow.  Not much else to say about it; if you want the details, click on the title to go to the article. As to how this surprise came about, the scientists can only guess: “…it could be that the black hole just grew much faster than the galaxy surrounding it, or maybe the galaxy’s growth was prematurely stopped.” Why or how the black hole would or could grow fast, or what would or could stop the galaxy’s growth, they don’t say.
Continue reading Black Holes, Gravity Waves, and Unending Gaps

An ancient mystery — or two or three?

Here’s a little mystery from 2011. Apparently, the fighting in Syria has prevented any newsworthy new discoveries. It’s an archaeologic site called Tell Qarqur, the buried remains of a city that was thriving “about 4,200 years ago.” The mystery is that archeaeologists believe it was during that period that “ancient civilizations across the Middle East collapsed, possibly in response to a global drought.” Supposedly this drought was so bad, “Along with the Mesopotamian and eastern Mediterranean societies that met their demise, Old Kingdom Egypt, a civilization that built the Great Pyramids, collapsed. ‘A different weather system reduced the flow of the Nile River at the same period so the Nile was affected.'”(quoting Harvey Weiss of Yale University) So how did this city keep thriving?

“The Orontes River is fed by a huge underground chamber of water, which is called a Karst,” Weiss said. “That huge underground source of water continued to flow and to feed the Orontes River during this period when rainfall was diminished.”

Continue reading An ancient mystery — or two or three?