accretion disks

Astronomy and Astrophysics: Facts

Here is a list of some curiosities of astronomy and astrophysics. From our solar system to interstellar space.

Pluto: Pluto  is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered. Like other Kuiper belt objects, Pluto is primarily made of ice and rock and is relatively small—about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume. It has a moderately eccentric and inclined orbit during which it ranges from 30 to 49 astronomical units or AU (4.4–7.4 billion km) from the Sun. 

Great Red Spot: The Great Red Spot is a persistent zone of high pressure, producing an anticyclonic storm on the planet Jupiter, 22° south of the equator. It has been continuously observed for 187 years, since 1830. Earlier observations from 1665 to 1713 are believed to have been the same storm; if this is correct, it has existed for more than 350 years.

Moons of Jupiter: There are 69 known moons of Jupiter. This gives Jupiter the largest number of moons with reasonably stable orbits of any planet in the Solar System. 

Uranus: Axial tilt: The Uranian axis of rotation is approximately parallel with the plane of the Solar System, with an axial tilt of 97.77° (as defined by prograde rotation). This gives it seasonal changes completely unlike those of the other planets. Near the solstice, one pole faces the Sun continuously and the other faces away. Only 

VFTS 102: VFTS 102 is a star located in the Tarantula nebula, a star forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

The peculiarity of this star is its projected equatorial velocity of ~600 km/s (about 2.000.000 km/h), making it the fastest rotating massive star known. The resulting centrifugal force tends to flatten the star; material can be lost in the loosely bound equatorial regions, allowing for the formation of a disk. The spectroscopic observations seem to confirm this, and the star is classified as Oe, possibly due to emission from such an equatorial disk of gas.

Black Holes: Monsters in Space: This artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. (Smaller black holes also exist throughout galaxies.) In this illustration, the supermassive black hole at the center is surrounded by matter flowing onto the black hole in what is termed an accretion disk. This disk forms as the dust and gas in the galaxy falls onto the hole, attracted by its gravity. 

Saturn’s hexagon: Saturn’s hexagon is a persisting hexagonal cloud pattern around the north pole of Saturn, located at about 78°N. The sides of the hexagon are about 13,800 km (8,600 mi) long, which is more than the diameter of Earth (about 12,700 km (7,900 mi)). 

Gravitational lens: A gravitational lens is a distribution of matter (such as a cluster of galaxies) between a distant light source and an observer, that is capable of bending the light from the source as the light travels towards the observer. This effect is known as gravitational lensing, and the amount of bending is one of the predictions of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Quasar: A quasar is an active galactic nucleus of very high luminosity. A quasar consists of a supermassive black hole surrounded by an orbiting accretion disk of gas. As gas in the accretion disk falls toward the black hole, energy is released in the form of electromagnetic radiation. Quasars emit energy across the electromagnetic spectrum and can be observed at radio, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, and X-ray wavelengths. 

Stretching SpaceTime: According to general relativity, the sun’s mass makes an imprint on the fabric of spacetime that keeps the planets in orbit. A neutron star leaves a greater mark. But a black hole is so dense that it creates a pit deep enough to prevent light from escaping.

Source: Wikipedia, NASA & ESO 

Image credit: NASA, JPL, New Horizons, Keck Observatory, Hubble, Chandra, Kevin Gill, James Provost  

And here we see @why-animals-do-the-thing stealing all my spotlight by reblogging one of my posts, the fiend. The small orange node in the bottom left is my root post, the huge node in the middle is them. It’s like an accretion disk of popularity.

Curse you, blackguard! How dare you reblog my post and generate me more views! Just kidding, I love you forever.

anonymous asked:

hey what the hell is a quasar

A quasar is a Quasi-Stellar Object meaning it shines like a star, but when you take spectrographic data of it, it’s mad fucked up my dude so it can’t be a star (hence the name) so people were like “what the heck dude” and now we know it’s actually the center of a galaxy called an “Active Galactic Nuclei” and you know how black holes will fucking wreck a star? Well mid-wreckage they form an accretion disk of star stuff around it and as the star stuff falls closer to the black hole, it releases a bunch of energy that comes to us looking like a star, but it’s actually a star being eaten alive and torn to shreds at an atomic level. Fucked up huh.

10

Universe’s Largest Black Hole May Have An Explanation At Last

“The brightest, most luminous objects in the entire Universe are neither stars nor galaxies, but quasars, like S5 0014+81. The sixth brightest quasar known so far, its mass was determined in a 2009 study: 40 billion Suns. Its physical size would have a radius that’s 800 times the Earth-Sun distance, or over 100 billion kilometers. This makes it the most massive black hole known in the entire Universe, as massive as the Triangulum galaxy, our local group’s third largest member.”

The largest black hole in the Universe was a shocker when it was first discovered. At 40 billion solar masses, it certainly is impressively large. Like other quasars and active galaxies, it has a luminous accretion disk that can be seen from a great distance. Like only a few, one of its two incredibly energetic, polar jets is pointed directly at Earth, creating a blazar, the brightest of all active galaxies. But what makes this object, known as S5 0014+81, so special is that it got so big and massive so quickly. Its light comes to us from a time when the Universe was only 1.6 billion years old: just 12% of its current age. If this brilliant, massive object were located a mere 280 light years away, or ‘only’ 18 million times the Earth-Sun distance, it would shine as brightly as our life-giving star.

Come learn about the largest ultramassive black hole known in the Universe, what explains its existence, and how there might be an even more massive one out there for Mostly Mute Monday!

Black Holes: A Summary

I got asked this lovely question yesterday afternoon and instead of just answering it, I wanted to write a comprehensive post about black holes and their many intricacies.  So, here we go: let’s talk about black holes!

Assumptions

We’re going to work with General Relativity (mostly) because it simplifies these concepts down into something a lot more understandable.  General Relativity is the perception of gravity as not an inherent force, but instead caused by the curvature of spacetime, a two-dimensional interpretation of the four dimensions of Minkowski spacetime (space in x, y and z directions and time).  The extent of the curvature of spacetime is directly related to the mass of the object.  Quantum theory will come up briefly, but not in the creation of black holes nor in the analysis of their properties.  

We’re also going to assume that the black holes discussed are gravitational, static and eternal.  This means that the black holes have gravity generated by their mass, do not spin and do not deteriorate over time.  I will discuss black hole deterioration in a separate section, but that concept won’t be relevant in the earlier sections.  

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Black hole models contradicted by hands-on tests

A long-standing but unproven assumption about the X-ray spectra of black holes in space has been contradicted by hands-on experiments performed at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine.

Z, the most energetic laboratory X-ray source on Earth, can duplicate the X-rays surrounding black holes that otherwise can be watched only from a great distance and then theorized about.

“Of course, emission directly from black holes cannot be observed,” said Sandia researcher and lead author Guillaume Loisel, lead author for a paper on the experimental results, published in August in Physical Review Letters. “We see emission from surrounding matter just before it is consumed by the black hole. This surrounding matter is forced into the shape of a disk, called an accretion disk.”

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What’s happened to giant star N6946-BH1? It was there just a few years ago – Hubble imaged it. Now there’s only a faint glow. What’s curiouser, no bright supernova occurred – although the star did brightened significantly for a few months. The leading theory is that, at about 25 times the mass of our Sun, N6946-BH1’s great gravity held much of the star together during its final tumultuous death throes, after which most the star sunk into a black hole of its own making. If so, then what remained outside of the black hole likely then formed an accretion disk that emits comparatively faint infrared light as it swirls around, before falling in. If this mode of star death is confirmed with other stars, it gives direct evidence that a very massive star can end its life with a whimper rather than a bang.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, Hubble, C. Kochanek (OSU)

Black Holes: Monsters in Space

This artist’s concept illustrates a supermassive black hole with millions to billions times the mass of our sun. Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies. (Smaller black holes also exist throughout galaxies.) In this illustration, the supermassive black hole at the center is surrounded by matter flowing onto the black hole in what is termed an accretion disk. This disk forms as the dust and gas in the galaxy falls onto the hole, attracted by its gravity.

Also shown is an outflowing jet of energetic particles, believed to be powered by the black hole’s spin. The regions near black holes contain compact sources of high energy X-ray radiation thought, in some scenarios, to originate from the base of these jets. This high energy X-radiation lights up the disk, which reflects it, making the disk a source of X-rays. The reflected light enables astronomers to see how fast matter is swirling in the inner region of the disk, and ultimately to measure the black hole’s spin rate.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Framing a bright emission region, this telescopic view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the reddish glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharplessas Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms at the center of this composite image. Ultraviolet radiation from young energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, including O star HDE 227018,ionizes the atoms and powers the emission from the Tulip Nebula. HDE 227018 is the bright star near the center of the nebula. Also framed in the field of view is microquasar Cygnus X-1, one of the strongest X-ray sources in planet Earth’s sky. Driven by powerful jets from a black hole accretion disk, its fainter visible curved shock front lies above and right, just beyond the cosmic Tulip’s petals.

Image Credit &Copyright:Ivan Eder

Time And Space

cosmic witchcraft 101: venusian magick ♀

Venus is the second planet from the Sun. Most likely the planet formed through disk accretion - gravitational forces drawing dust and particles together to form a rocky core, which gets big enough to capture the lighter elements that form the planet’s atmosphere. Astronomer Giovanni Cassini reported a moon on venus in the 1600′s, and many people claimed to see it over the next 200 years. Most of these sightings were proven to be nearby stars, but scientists believe Venus had a moon in our solar system’s earlier years. They hypothesize a huge impact on Venus created a moon billions of years ago, but 10 million years after its formation another huge impact reversed the planet’s spin direction and caused the moon to spiral inward until it collided with Venus.

Facts:

  • Venus is the 3rd brightest object in the sky after the Sun and Moon.
  • Incredibly thick, reflective clouds of sulfuric acid cause the planet to shine so brightly.
  • Due to its runaway greenhouse effect, Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system.
  • A Venusian day is 243 Earth days, 18 days longer than a Venusian year.
  • Venus spins backward compared to the other planets. From its surface, the Sun would appear to rise in the west and set in the east.
  • Venus is the most spherical of all the planets.

Magickal Correspondences*

Colors: red, pink, white, green, yellow, purple

Intents: love, self-love, glamors, balance, peace, creativity, attraction, beauty, justice, material comfort, finances, reversal of fortune

Herbs: vanilla, rose, poppy, peppermint, daffodil, juniper, hibiscus, heather, tansy, lilac, violet, myrrh, eucalyptus

Crystals: emerald, rose quartz, blue calcite, jade, green jasper, lapis lazuli, sodalite, turquoise, rhodonite, serpentine, celestite

*some of these correspondences are based on traditional associations and some are based on my personal associations

Jupiter is the Oldest Planet  in our Solar System

An international group of scientists has found that Jupiter is the oldest planet in our solar system.

By looking at tungsten and molybdenum isotopes on iron meteorites, the team, made up of scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Institut für Planetologie at the University of Münsterin Germany, found that meteorites are made up from two genetically distinct nebular reservoirs that coexisted but remained separated between 1 million and 3-4 million years after the solar system formed.

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The beautiful spiral galaxy visible in the center of the image is known as RX J1140.1+0307, a galaxy in the Virgo constellation imaged by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and it presents an interesting puzzle. At first glance, this galaxy appears to be a normal spiral galaxy, much like the Milky Way, but first appearances can be deceptive!

The Milky Way galaxy, like most large galaxies, has a supermassive black hole at its center, but some galaxies are centered on lighter, intermediate-mass black holes. RX J1140.1+0307 is such a galaxy — in fact, it is centered on one of the lowest black hole masses known in any luminous galactic core. What puzzles scientists about this particular galaxy is that the calculations don’t add up. With such a relatively low mass for the central black hole, models for the emission from the object cannot explain the observed spectrum. There must be other mechanisms at play in the interactions between the inner and outer parts of the accretion disk surrounding the black hole.

ASTROPHYSICISTS FROM THE LOMONOSOV MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY
HAVE STUDIED THE “REJUVENATING” PULSAR IN A NEIGHBORING GALAXY

Lomonosov Moscow State University scientists have published in the Astrophysical Journal the results of a study of the unique ultraslow pulsar XB091D. This neutron star is believed to have captured a companion only a million years ago and, since then, has been slowly restoring its rapid rotation. The young pulsar is located in one of the oldest globular star clusters in the Andromeda galaxy, where the cluster may once have been a dwarf galaxy.

Massive stars die young, exploding as bright supernovae. In this process, their outer layers of material are thrown off, and the core shrinks, usually becoming a compact and super-dense neutron star. Strongly magnetized, they rotate rapidly, making hundreds of revolutions per second, but they lose their rotational energy and slow down, emitting narrow beams of particles. They radiate a focused radio emission that periodically passes the Earth, creating the effect of a regularly pulsating source, often with a millisecond period.

In order to “return youth” and again accelerate its rotation, the pulsar can encounter an ordinary star. After teaming up to form a pair or a binary system, the neutron star begins to pull matter from the star, forming a hot accretion disk around itself. Closer to the neutron star, the gaseous disk is torn apart by the magnetic field of the neutron star, and the matter streams onto it, forming a “hot spot” – the temperature here reaches millions of degrees, and the spot radiates in X-rays. A rotating neutron star can then be seen as an X-ray pulsar as a beacon, while the matter that continues to fall on it gives an additional impulse, accelerating the rotation.

For some hundred thousand years – a mere blink in the history of the universe – the old pulsar, which has already slowed to one revolution every few seconds, can once again spin thousands of times faster. Such a rare moment was observed by a team of astrophysicists from the Lomonosov Moscow State University, jointly with colleagues from Italy and France. The X-ray pulsar known as XB091D, was discovered at the earliest stages of its “rejuvenation” and turns out to be the slowest rotating of all globular-cluster pulsars known to date. The neutron star completes one revolution in 1.2 seconds – more than ten times slower than the previous record holder. According to scientists, the acceleration of the pulsar began less than one million years ago.

The discovery was made using observations collected by the XMM-Newton space observatory between 2000 and 2013 and were combined by astronomers of the Lomonosov Moscow State University into an open online database. Access to information on approximately 50 billion X-ray photons has already allowed scientists from different countries to discover a number of previously unnoticed interesting objects. Among them was the pulsar XB091D, which was also noticed by another group of Italian astronomers who published their results several months ago. XB091D is only the second pulsar found outside of our galaxy and its nearest satellites, although two more such pulsars were subsequently detected using the same online catalog.

The results of the first complete analysis of the X-ray source XB091D are presented in an article published by Ivan Zolotukhin, a researcher at the Lomonosov Moscow State University, and his co-authors in The Astrophysical Journal.

“The detectors on XMM-Newton detect only one photon from this pulsar every five seconds. Therefore, the search for pulsars among the extensive XMM-Newton data can be compared to the search for a needle in a haystack, “ says Ivan Zolotukhin. – In fact, for this discovery we had to create completely new mathematical tools that allowed us to search and extract the periodic signal. Theoretically, there are many applications for this method, including those outside astronomy. “

Based on a total of 38 XMM-Newton observations, astronomers managed to characterize the XB091D system. The X-ray pulsar is about 1 million years old, the companion of the neutron star is an old star of moderate size (about four fifths the mass of the Sun). The binary system itself has a rotation period of 30.5 hours, and the neutron star spins once on its axis every 1.2 seconds. In about 50 thousand years, it will accelerate sufficiently to turn into a conventional millisecond pulsar.

However, it was not only orbital parameters that astronomers were able to observe, they were also able to determine the environment around XB091D. Ivan Zolotukhin and his colleagues showed that XB091D is located in the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, 2.5 million light-years away, amongst the stars of the extremely dense globular cluster B091D, where in a volume of only 90 light-years across, there are more millions of old faint stars. The cluster itself is estimated to be as much as 12 billion years old, so no recent supernovae resulting in the birth of a pulsar would have occurred.

“In our galaxy, no such slow X-ray pulsars are observed in hundred and fifty known globular clusters, because their cores are not big and dense enough to form close binary stars at sufficiently high rate” explains Ivan Zolotukhin. – This indicates that the B091D cluster core, with an extremely dense composition of stars in the XB091D is much larger than that of the usual cluster. So, we are dealing with a large and rather rare object – with a dense remnant of a small galaxy that the Andromeda galaxy once devoured. The density of the stars here, in a region that is about 2.5 light-years across, is about ten million times higher than in the vicinity of the Sun.”

According to scientists, it is the vast region of super-high density stars in the B091D cluster that allowed a neutron star to capture a companion about a million years ago and begin the process of acceleration and “rejuvenation.”

Framing a bright emission region, this telescopic view looks out along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy toward the nebula rich constellation Cygnus the Swan. Popularly called the Tulip Nebula, the reddish glowing cloud of interstellar gas and dust is also found in the 1959 catalog by astronomer Stewart Sharpless as Sh2-101. About 8,000 light-years distant and 70 light-years across the complex and beautiful nebula blossoms at the center of this composite image. Ultraviolet radiation from young energetic stars at the edge of the Cygnus OB3 association, including O star HDE 227018, ionizes the atoms and powers the emission from the Tulip Nebula. HDE 227018 is the bright star near the center of the nebula. Also framed in the field of view is microquasar Cygnus X-1, one of the strongest X-ray sources in planet Earth’s sky. Driven by powerful jets from a black hole accretion disk, its fainter visible curved shock front lies above and right, just beyond the cosmic Tulip’s petals

cosmic witchcraft 101: martian magick ♂

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in our solar system. Like the other terrestrial planets, Mars likely formed via disk accretion (gravitational forces drawing dust and particles together to form a rocky core which captures the lighter elements to form the planet’s atmosphere) and probably suffered a tremendous impact as well. Scientists hypothesize a Pluto-sized object struck the red planet and left behind Valles Marineris, a gigantic crack in Mars’ surface approximately ten times longer and wider than the Grand Canyon.

Facts:

  • Mars’s brilliant red color comes from iron oxide/rust on the planet’s surface.
  • A Martian year is 687 Earth days; however, a Martian day is almost identical to an Earth day in length at 24 hours and 37 minutes.
  • The red planet has two small, irregularly shaped moons named Phobos and Deimos.  
  • Mars has the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons.
  • In a few million years, Phobos is expected to collide with Mars.
  • Mars is so cold the ice caps on the Northern and Southern poles get a coating of dry ice during the winter.

Magickal Correspondences*

Colors: red, brown, white

Intents: courage, strength, power, protection, success, force, conflict, passion, energy, drive, lust, stamina

Herbs: onion, thyme, basil, black pepper, acacia, aloe, dandelion, ginger, cardamom, chives, nettles, turmeric

Crystals: red jasper, ruby, carnelian, red labradorite, red beryl, bloodstone, garnet, red spinel, red zircon, tiger’s eye, agate, fire opal, red tourmaline, hematite, sardonyx, red coral

*some of these correspondences are based on traditional associations and some are based on my personal associations

Devourer of planets? Princeton Astronomers dub star 'Kronos'

In mythology, the Titan Kronos devoured his children, including Poseidon (better known as the planet Neptune), Hades (Pluto) and three daughters.

So when a group of Princeton astronomers discovered twin stars, one of which showed signs of having ingested a dozen or more rocky planets, they named them after Kronos and his lesser-known brother Krios. Their official designations are HD 240430 and HD 240429, and they are both about 350 light years from Earth.

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The boxer

Chapter 12: Third of May/ Ōdaigahara

Pidge sat in the bay of Green, perched on a box of supplies, her flight suit leg pulled to her upper-thigh as she threaded the blue thread through her skin with the thin hook needle. The area had been administered anesthetics and cleaned. Now the only thing Pidge had to not do was puke. Her fingers were shaking by the time she tied the last knot, knowing that the job wasn’t as clean as it could be but that it would at least function for now. She rolled down the suit’s leg, checked the seal at each interval before pulling her pants and boots on over top. She rolled the jacket on over her shoulders and caught her breath.

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how did i get here? pt. 3

in this, probably my last “introductory”/background post, i’m going to talk about my favorite research-related experience from my undergraduate years: my summer in leiden. incredibly, i found this internship on tumblr (more on that below). here’s one of my favorite pictures from leiden (although i’ll try to upload more than just one this time!)

(ID: An empty brick street in Leiden, The Netherlands. The visible houses on the left side of the street are small, cute, compact two-story brick homes. The sides of the street are dotted every so often with greenery - a tree here, a bush there. There are some flowers growing out of the window of the first house on the left. And, in typical Dutch fashion, you can make out at least 5 bikes resting on the sides of the street, the most prominent of which is a bright pink bike by the first house on the left.)

okay, okay, i know that tumblr intro was captivating and you want to know more, so here it goes: i wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work in leiden if not for tumblr. i remember one night at home during winter break of my junior year when i was in bed browsing some obscure astronomy-related tag on tumblr mobile, and i came across this blog (which still exists, though i think its owner abandoned it long ago). it was all about this girl’s experiences in holland, about all of the friends she made and all of the adventures she went on while she was doing astronomy research. i remember how hooked i was - i read through her entire blog in a night, and i read it again the next night. i figured out that the program she was in was called LEAPS, and so i googled “LEAPS leiden” and…there it was. this amazing opportunity to do research abroad. and…wait, did it say they had an astrochemistry project this year…that seems like a perfect fit for me? i resolved myself at some point to make some moves so that the advisor looking at my application would know my name, so i emailed her a few questions, to which she enthusiastically replied a day later.

in two months, on my birthday, i had pulled an all-nighter studying for quantum ii and cs theory, and at about 4:30 am i got an email notification. it was from that advisor that i had emailed. i had made the short list for the program and was invited for a skype interview. i responded six minutes later with my preferred interview time. it went great, and i got offered the spot, and i turned down two internships that i would have *killed* for the year before to take a flight to the netherlands to work in leiden. it was the best thing that ever happened to me as an undergrad, and to think - i probably never would have known about it if i wouldn’t have been browsing tumblr and stumbling upon that blog. i know that the author of that blog is still in astronomy, and i think it’d be a little weird to go up to her and thank her for this if i ever see her at a conference, but i honestly think i still will.

(sidenote: if any undergrad astronomers are reading this and thinking about applying to LEAPS, do it!!!)

leiden was…beautiful. it’s a lovely city about a half-hour’s train ride from amsterdam, and it’s much smaller and quieter than amsterdam as well. there are cute little streets like the one above all throughout the city, and beautiful canals everywhere. it was the birthplace of rembrandt, and it is as picturesque as that title requires. a hundred (i think) of the walls across the city are decorated with poetry from all over the world, which is an incredible public arts project.

when i think about leiden, i think about how happy i was to be there. i struggled a lot with mental health throughout college, especially my sophomore and junior years, but i was so much happier working and living in the netherlands those three months than i think i had felt in the two years prior. i had my bad days, of course, and the constant rain didn’t help those. but the good days were great.

i went to leiden to do a project in one of the biggest (and i would probably say *the* biggest) astrochemistry research groups on earth. this was an unbelievable opportunity for me; i was coming from a great school, but a school that had only a single person working on research i would have considered going into in grad school (that number has since risen to two, but i guess that doesn’t matter anymore). when i got to leiden, i was suddenly surrounded by incredible research on all sides. the coffee room was always buzzing with activity in different languages, but every so often you could hear words like “star formation” and “accretion disk” and “radiative transfer” and “ALMA” just getting thrown around. it was…exhilarating.

at leiden, i worked on the chemistry of protoplanetary disks, which eventually made its way into my senior thesis at columbia. basically, when stars start to form within those molecular clouds i was talking about a post or two ago, they don’t do so statically; they’re often rotating. and to conserve angular momentum, a baby star ends up forming a disk of material around itself, which is eventually the material that’s incorporated into planetary systems. that’s how we got here, probably! i was studying specifically the formation of two complex organic molecules within protoplanetary disks that had just been observed a year (for one) and a month (for the other) prior to my arrival in leiden.

working on the cutting edge of disk research was really, really cool, and my advisor was absolutely the right advisor for me at the time. she was always unbelievably supportive and kind, and even so she found so many ways to push me scientifically and make me believe that i could do the things she asked of me. i never felt like a bad researcher in her group, and i always felt like if i worked hard enough, i could contribute something worthwhile. i guess i learned that the best advisors have that kind of magic about them, that they can push you to new heights without breaking you down.

i think that group was when i really started thinking that i had the ability to do this for real and really love it. because while there were points in the year prior where i felt i was starting to get a feel for research and where i had proven i *could* do it, they usually coincided with feelings of not *wanting* to do it. but after leiden, research felt like a real goal for me.

anyway, i’ve blabbed enough. leiden is amazing, here are some more photos of my time there.

(ID: A neon sign at a bar called Einstein’s. The words “Imagination,” “love,” “everything,” and “theory” are the only ones that glow bright blue.)

(ID: A few people walk a small brick path beside the walls of a castle. An old church looms in the distance between the trees and greenery.)

(ID: A man with longer blonde hair, in a pink shirt and blue shorts with a canvas backpack, walks his bike along an old brick path. At the leftmost edge of the path is a canal, and there is greenery all along that edge, as well as past the canal and before the road.)

(ID: The sun begins to set on a beach about 5 km from Leiden. The waves roll in slow and slow, and you can see the foam on top of the water. There are a couple of pillowy clouds, behind which the sun is beginning to disappear.)

(ID: A slightly blurry photo of the bridge between buildings in the Observatory at night. The bridge looks metallic and is lit brightly at regular intervals, and it looks like there’s a creepy workspace in the distance (it’s actually just a rocking chair, but a lack of light will do that to a photo). The emptiness makes one wonder why the person taking this photo was at work so goddamn late.)

(ID: A larger river spanned by a bridge at sunset in the center of Leiden. All sorts of houses and businesses are visible ont he right side of the river, and everything looks tranquil and peaceful.)