It promises to be quite a show as all the material that doesn't get sucked into oblivion will be swept up, swirled around in a gigantic catherine wheel, heated, stretched, shredded and finally fired out again in a dazzling display of gravitational power. Not something astronomers get to see every day.
"The black hole at the centre of our galaxy is normally quite quiet, docile even, but as this cloud begins to fall in the material is going to get very, very hot and it's going to start emitting all sorts of radiation. WE DON'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN but we know it's going to be spectacular."
The galactic pyrotechnic display about to be unleashed couldn't have come at a more opportune moment. NASA's latest space based X-ray telescope, NuSTAR, was only launched in June but is already offering a grandstand view of G2's death throes. "We got lucky and caught an initial outburst from the black hole during our first observing campaign in July. But that's just a taste of what's to come next year, and NuSTAR will be there to catch it".
The close encounter between Sagittarius A* [the black hole] and the G2 dust cloud is set to start early in the New Year. The latest simulations suggest the massive cloud of dust and gas will have been completely consumed in less than a decade. Quite a meal, even for a supermassive black hole.
"Black holes have had a bad rap. We've always thought of them as these dark, brooding destructive entities, but it turns out their influence is much more creative. Black holes help to regulate galaxies, acting a bit like a pressure valve that prevents star formation from running away with itself". By dictating the large-scale structure of galaxies like the Milky Way, black holes have helped to establish the conditions necessary for life to emerge.
But it's the other, less creative, side of a black hole's personality that will be grabbing the headlines over the next few months. "It's very exciting because it's the first time we've been able to predict something like this, and the first time we've had the telescopes and instruments ready to watch it in detail. We hope we'll see some of the processes at play in converting matter into energy around black holes". (video)
I dream things that never were and ask why not.**
Robert F. Kennedy (quoting George Bernard Shaw)
LARGEST QUAKES -
Live Seismograms - Worldwide (update every 30 minutes)
This morning -
5.0 KURIL ISLANDS
5.0 NEAR ISLANDS, ALEUTIAN ISLANDS
5.2 OFFSHORE GUATEMALA
5.0 NORTHEAST OF TAIWAN
6.0 NEAR N COAST OF NEW GUINEA, PNG.
5.4 FIJI REGION
5.5 FIJI REGION
5.5 NEAR COAST OF NORTHERN PERU
Guatemala volcano erupts - Video. Guatemala is on alert as the Santiaguito volcano dumps plumes of smoke and ash over nearby communities, coating cars and houses in grey dust. The volcano lies 200kms (124 miles) west of the country's capital. Residents of nearby communities woke on Wednesday morning to find a thin layer of ash coating their cars, streets and homes. White columns of smoke reaching up to 5km (3.1 miles) into the sky had spewed forth from the Santiaguito lava-dome complex at the base of the volcano's summit. The situation was not serious enough to issue an official evacuation notice.
Russia - First images of the Tolbachik Fissure Eruption. KVERT reported that a 4 cm depth ashfall from a probable flank fissure (likely basaltic andesite in composition) extended up to 35 km from the volcano. KVERT posted a few images, including the two fissures with accompanying 9,800 ft ash plumes.
TROPICAL STORMS -
In the Western Pacific -
Typhoon Bopha was located approximately 665 nm east-southeast of Palau.
Bopha is forecast to strike the Philippines as a typhoon at about 08:00 GMT on 4 December. It is likely to make landfall over the Visayas or Mindanao. “Bopha” could bring more rains than last year's “Sendong,” which left a trail of destruction in Mindanao.
2 more cyclones expected to enter Philippine area of responsibility in December, the state weather bureau said Friday.
SEVERE RAIN STORMS, FLOODING, LANDSLIDES -
Massive tornado caught on tape in Taranto, Italy - Video surfaced on YouTube of a massive tornado tearing through Taranto,Italy on Wednesday. According to local reports, the tornado touched down in southeastern Italy. The video showed a large wedge tornado hitting the industrial city with several power flashes and debris flying in the air.
Local media reported that there was extensive damage in the area, which was also confirmed by several videos. There were unconfirmed reports of at least three deaths and over 20 people injured. Some other reports said there was an explosion at a factory and a possible toxic cloud as a result.
Although tornadoes are RARE, they do occur throughout Europe. This situation was characterized by a strong trough and associated area of strong low pressure that created a favorable environment across southeastern Italy with strong wind shear and unstable conditions. A very strong low level jet at 35-40 knots was also present in the area, increasing the low level shear. Similar to the United States, tornadoes and severe weather in Europe are typically common in the fall and spring months of the year as weather transitions from warm air masses to cooler air masses and vice versa.
Another stormy week is in store for the U. S. West Coast - Storm warnings are in effect along the Oregon Coast with gale warnings posted along the entire West Coast (except extreme southern California). Even areas near southern Alaska are looking for winds up to gale force.
HEAVY SNOW / EXTREME COLD -
Russia - Moscow blanketed by RECORD-BREAKING SNOWFALL. A large, early snowstorm raging in Moscow disrupted flights and created havoc on the roads on Thursday.
20 centimeters (8 inches) of snow had fallen in 24 hours. That is HALF OF MOSCOW'S TYPICAL AMOUNT OF SNOW FOR THE WHOLE MONTH of November. Moscow’s City Hall said it expects the snowstorm, which is due to continue at least until Friday morning, to be the BIGGEST IN NOVEMBER IN 50 YEARS.
The roads in the capital have been clogged up since early Thursday morning and about 70 flights from Moscow’s largest airport, Domodedovo, were disrupted overnight. On Thursday, all three of the capital’s airports were working normally. Motorists complained about the lack of efforts to clear the snow from the streets. In one section of Moscow’s beltway the traffic was paralyzed for at least 30 kilometers (18 miles) on Thursday afternoon.
HEALTH THREATS -
Glass particles found in Ranbaxy pills, production stopped - The company that makes a popular cholesterol drug has stopped production because small glass particles have been found in the pills. Ranbaxy makes a generic for Lipitor taken by four million Americans. The glass particles are the size of a grain of sand. They haven't caused any patient problems but the company can't determine how they're getting into the pills. Patients are being told to return the Ranbaxy pills and get another brand.
RECALLS & ALERTS: