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Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2012

LHS grad a rising star in the field of astronomy

April 5, 2012

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Idan Ginsburg, shown with a historic telescope at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., is a 1994 graduate of Lawrence High School.

Idan Ginsburg, shown with a historic telescope at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., is a 1994 graduate of Lawrence High School.

What’s at the end of the universe?

It’s a question that Idan Ginsburg remembers asking years ago as an elementary school student attending a summer course at Kansas University. As he recalls, the college students leading the session didn’t give a very satisfying answer.

“I’m still studying that question,” Ginsburg said. “I think we all are.”

Ginsburg, who is a 1994 Lawrence High School graduate, has gained attention from the likes of National Geographic and Time magazines for his recent research that sheds light on the outer reaches of the universe. Born in Israel, Ginsburg grew up in Lawrence, and his parents, Esther and Shlomo Ginsburg, still live here.

With the help of computer simulations, the Dartmouth astronomer studies what he thinks are planets being flung out of a black hole like a rock out of a slingshot.

Since 1988, scientists have theorized that the massive black hole at the core of the Milky Way can separate pairs of stars that orbit each other and get too close to the black hole’s gravitational force. The theory is that one of the stars is swallowed up by the monstrously large black hole while the other one is flung out on a path that will take it to intergalactic space. The star being ejected is known as a hypervelocity star and travels at speeds of up to 1.5 million miles per hour.

In 2005, the first hypervelocity star was found; since then 20 others have been counted.

Ginsburg co-authored a paper that will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Ginsburg spent time studying at Harvard before going to Dartmouth almost five yeas ago.

Through computer simulations, the research shows that planets are also being ejected out of the galaxy when the stars they orbit get too close to the black hole.

“That says a lot about planetary evolution at the Galactic Center,” Ginsburg said.

Ginsburg theorizes that planets could remain in transit around a hypervelocity star that is ejected out of the black hole.

Computer simulations also show that just as orbiting stars get separated in the black hole, a planet could be ripped apart from the star it orbits and sent flying out of the galaxy at high speeds. Those rogue planets could be moving as fast as 30 million miles per hour.

“It’s at a speed we can’t even imagine,” Ginsburg said.

Eventually, Ginsburg said, astronomers should be able to detect the hypervelocity planets that transit stars, because the star will grow dimmer as the planet passes in front of it.

“I’m sure sooner or later people are going to be looking for these. And I think it is something definitely worth looking for,” he said.

Right now, astronomers don’t have the tools to spot the lone planets rocketing through the galaxy.

Ginsburg is glad others are taking note of his work.

“It’s nice that people are interested in our research. We like to share what we do with the public,” he said.

Comments

Les Blevins 2 years, 7 months ago

A lot of youngsters wonder if there is actually an end or an edge to the universe, and if there is try to imagine what it would be like, I know I did. I've also pondered the question of what if anything existed in space before the stars existed, and where the universe came from and how it was formed in the first place. I've also prayed to God for understanding and He has provided some understanding of how the universe can exist with no center and no edge. I don't claim to fully understand it but I believe God provided an answer that seems to me to explain the so called "big bang" and the questions of what is dark matter and dark energy and how can the universe continue to expand and how the expansion rate itself be speeding up. I believe God gave me an equation that I believe is the Simple Truth Equation that Albert Einstein was searching for when he came up with his Theory of Relativity. I hope someday I have a chance to speak with Mr. Idan Ginsburg or another astronomer or perhaps a theoretical physicist to tell them about this equation and get their thoughts on the theory that as I see it God handed me and perhaps published this equation for the deep thinkers among us to ponder.

ThePilgrim 2 years, 7 months ago

It is unlikely that God gave you the Unified Field Theory (Theory of Everything) that ties Relativity and Quantum Theory together.

Hooligan_016 2 years, 7 months ago

Well ... that was certainly interesting ... o_0

Dan Blomgren 2 years, 7 months ago

Les,

God himself gave you the Simple Truth Equation! Dude you owe it to the world to publish this. But before you do ask God what the Powerball winning numbers are, and call me with them.

ThePilgrim 2 years, 7 months ago

Congrats to (Dr.) Ginsburg. And thanks to his parents for encouraging am interest in astronomy and science. Lawrence is a great place to stargaze (well at least the southern and western skies, not the Eastern KC light-polluted sky).

notorious_agenda 2 years, 7 months ago

From the barn on 1900 road I can see more stars than anywhere else that I go in Kansas. There is no light pollution from Kansas City and its further east than Lawrence. Actually there is light pollution from Lawrence, but luckily the geography blocks most of it.

Hooligan_016 2 years, 7 months ago

This is one of those areas I have an inherent passion for, but never could quite grasp my head around the math to become an effective researcher. I'd love for him to give a lecture at KU (and maybe bring NDT with him ;) )

jonas_opines 2 years, 7 months ago

It's not a hologram, it's Intelligent Sky Art.

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