So we live smack dab in the middle of the golden age of astrophysics; the things they could see when I was a kid in science class is nothing but the most local part of the new cosmic cartography, galaxy clusters now mapped outward in every direction into “red-shift” space, the picture filling in with increasing richness over the last several years as messages from deep within the heart of the biggest most compact astrophysical objects ever, in the form of “gamma ray bursts” land upon waiting telescopes and are gradually digested into the population. As the inside of our galaxy was discovered and the central black hole – “Sagittarius a star” was gradually revealed, that was a big hobby of mine – everybody looks at the sun and knows when it’s going up or down; the astronomers look through telescopes at the sunspots and predict the space weather, the astrophysicists speculate on the central fusion engine creating elements up to iron (Fe) on the periodic table at the center of our sun as the output while it shines outwardly. And the Taoists and Aztecs like me travel to the heart of the star to drink it’s essence with the king and the queen of the star. And now that we had discovered Sagittarius a star I was happy to advance to traveling to the center of the black hole, or “massive central object”. But there have been no real developments on the Sagittarius a star front lately. It’s kind of a quiet black hole, not much consumption, not much output, just “quiescent” as they say. Little blips but there is so much else going on in the universe news these days that the little blips popping out of Sagittarius a star a-periodically aren’t that entertaining. So I was glad to see that there’s exciting news on the nearest “active” galactic nucleus, the quasar at the heart of the galaxy known as “M87”, which is smack dab at the center of the Virgo cluster. You see our milky way and the other glaxy kinda like it, “Andromeda”, are right here in the “Local cluster”, then there’s the nearest much more massive cluster called “Virgo”, and there is one big galaxy at the center of that cluster, “M87”, with a giant quasar beaming out of it at all the other members in the Virgo cluster.
And as I watched them discover this stuff I developed a set of analogies that have made sense over the years in many ways. The analogy is that galaxies are like people. Some are in little clusters, some in larger clusters. And the larger clusters, of people or galaxies, have a quasar at the center, a central engine or leader that feeds something outward that holds all the other elements together. It provides the ideal for the community, it radiates at the” eddington ratio”, pushing out everything it consumes and even magically more like the loaves and the fishes trick, a magical leader for the cluster.
When they first began resolving the region of the galaxy where Sagittarius a star lives, they were surprised at what they found. They thought the black hole would be uncontrollably consuming everything around it, and tearing it all up, so they were surprised to see well formed large stars in super dense star clusters, surprised just that the stars could persist and not be instantly torn up and consumed. As if they were watching me from satellites up there at the CIA, and they knew I had a lot of food in my house, and they thought I’d be rolling around in it and eating everything I could push down, then surprised to find me in their telescopic first encounter to be lounging in my living room, densely packed clusters of rich foods only a few feet away in the densely packed refrigerator and cupboards. And when we watch Sagittarius a star long enough, he gets up and goes to the kitchen, makes a sandwich, eats it, then makes one of those little “outbursts”, a little victory dance, a little medicine to water the time garden all around the central apothecary, and then it’s over.
And now we are looking in at the central regions of M87, a massive quasar (I love Sagittarius a star but that is no massive quasar), and getting some unprecedented detail, so I’m entertained again by a compact central object’s lifestyle habits. I watch these quasars at the center of clusters because they are galaxies like all the others but there is something different about them in that they go to the very center of the heat and high pressure, and don’t move, while the whole community revolves around them Science suggests they are just collapsed versions of the objects around it, but the lion at the center of the zebrasr is not a collapsed version of the lighter zebras, prey racing in circles around it, the lion is a different species, in from elsewhere. Guess I always wanted to be like the quasar. Used to think that the way to play quasar of the community was to become the magical priest at the center of the community, drinking in all their questions and fears and problems and beaming out a huge source of fortification to the flock, pararadiating their god to them, but my father had been a catholic priest, same impulse probably, but he couldn’t keep it up, fell in love and got married and dropped out then regretted it, never really fulfilling either role, caught pensively between the two. I decided to just go for all out relationship, and I am happy, married life like nothing ever before, super healthy and super strong and so sweet. I am the quasar at the center of a family, pets out there in some outer orbits too, and a large extended family all around, clusters of other galaxies and quasars.
So I watched closely this week as the inner structure of the home of the great quasar M87 was revealed to us.

With the food of compact objects – rich molecular gas – stacked densely all around, two giant arms of cool gas are emitted from the central object, wrapped in a “radio cocoon” – house radiating out in to space – the cool billows from the object are the shaman’s empty scarecrow, moving forward with the slow grace of the cloud serpent, punctuated by shock fronts over overacting, cynosure surrounding a bubble of irrational cool, radiating infinity, beaming empty intensity. Cool bubbles of mindfulness rise out from the central object, overilluminating itself to the point where many others gather around to roost in its fascinating output, and metallicity peaks at the core of the group, quenching for the synaptic event of releasing the clouds…booya, magic bananas….and the dark enigma / quiet mystery of Fe forming at the center is also deposited at the edge of the arms, into a radius bump in metallicity. Shocks light up star formation, to offset the radiative cooling.
Galaxies are different, some starburst a lot, creating hot stars, others are quiet, and I came to root for the quiet ones to stay zenlike and calm the infinite turbulence; the star bursting galaxies are indulging, getting caught up in the shocks and the turbulent interaction, absurd edists, many hot stars bursting into existence like a bunch of hot emotional destructive episodes.
The clouds of cool gas going outward shock the surrounding Intra cluster medium ICM, so there is a region of star formation, but several other regions that see the cool cloud and still stay cool, don’t react or go into shock and start star formation cascades. These shocks offset the other cooling that always takes place, radiative cooling, time’s way of giving matter/energy a “timeout”.
The cool bubbles reduce entropy in their path, like me coming out of the house – my radio cocoon – and picking up the garbage or mowing the lawn and digging up the weeds, closer to the central bedroom, doing the laundry and the dishes, always reducing the entropy in my path as I wander in the radio cocoon. The cool bubbles rise up and redistribute the dark enigma tea, the quiet mystery soup, pushing it upward to recirculate downward again. It would have stayed crushed, and it took the cool bubbles to walk the heavy metals out to the sidewalk, only to let them rain down onto and into the house again in the next hurricane.
And as I went through my weekend trying to generate these cold bubbles, I could only do it periodically, not continuously. Over the fourth of july weekend there was definitely some carbuncly star bursting. But then I also realized that M87 does the same thing, the ejections from the quenched object are periodic, from time to time, but any one burst can do a lot, create things like children.
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replied July 16th, 2010
Are you looking through a telescope or are you psychotic? Its not clear from your post but I guess you are posting on schizophrenia forum. Hows that astral travel thing going for you. Have you learned anything you want to teach us?
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replied June 19th, 2011
Experienced User
just a star struck dreamer with an internet connection, looking through the telescopes into red shift space, with xxx.soton.ac.uk. It's the cosmic cartography, the structure of the galaxy cluster that mirrors the structure of a human - cluster (city) , but more ideal, with the bright shining quasar/shaman at the center, reaching out to all the members with rays of life...
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