Sunday, August 06, 2006

Say that again?

While I was doing research today, I read the most amazing sentence EVER. This baby was the first sentence of an introduction to a physics paper published in The Astronomical Journal. Ten bucks goes to whomever can explain this (in English!) in under 65 words.
Analysis of gravitational microlensing observations of the quasar Q0957+561 has offered strong evidence for the existence of an intrinsic structure within this quasar that can only be explained by a nonstandard luminous quasar model consisting of a thin accretion disk whose interior is essentially empty of matter out to a luminous inner edge that resides at about 70 gravitational radii from the central compact object and that is also surrounded by an order of magnitude larger outer ring-shaped Elvis structure where the broad blueshifted emission lines are formed.
Elvis structure! I love it.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Chiefley said...

I hate it when that happens!

9:38 PM  
Blogger I have nothing important to say....... said...

2 of my friends and I tried to decipher this code. All I can say is, I love the thought of an elvis structure!
I am thinking it is a quasar which is empty and the elvis structure comment just points out that as it is getting older the quasar gets wider?!?!

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Chris Dwan said...

Analysis of gravitational microlensing observations

Gravitational lensing is when astronomers use gravity to warp light's beams in the same way that a physical lens would, to bring a distant object into focus. Of course, we can't manipulate gravity directly, so we have to find really heavy things out in space that will do the work for us. "Macro" lensing uses galaxies and objects at that scale. Microlensing uses smallish things, like:

of the quasar Q0957+561

Next we get to the fun part. I can't tell from this sentence whether they used a gravitational microlens to observe the quasar, or used observations of the microlens created by the quasar to infer stuff about it. I think it's the latter.

has offered strong evidence for the existence of an intrinsic structure within this quasar

This part makes total sense. There should be a period at this point.

that can only be explained by a nonstandard luminous quasar model

They're going out on a limb here with "can only," but basically they're saying that the "standard" idea of how a quasar works doesn't mesh with their observations of this one.

consisting of a thin accretion disk

Matter accretes (is attracted to and sticks to) spinning objects in space along a disk. Like, say, a solar system or a galaxy.

whose interior is essentially empty of matter out to a luminous inner edge

So, the disk of gunk that's falling into the quasar is mostly hollow, but then the inner edge is glowing. It's a ring.

that resides at about 70 gravitational radii from the central compact object

Measure of the size of the ring around the quasar.

and that is also surrounded by an order of magnitude larger outer ring-shaped Elvis structure where the broad blueshifted emission lines are formed.

Emission lines come off of matter that's moving hella fast. It's x-rays and the like that are being tossed off of some seriously movin' particles. So, the outside of the ring is where the really fast motion is happening, and the inner side of the ring is glowing.

I have no idea what an Elvis structure is.

-C

7:27 PM  
Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

An Elvis structure (named not for the singer but for its discoverer, Martin Elvis) is a hyperbola-shaped luminous outflowing from a quasar's accretion disk, presumably from the 'wind' created by the motion of the particles.

2:50 AM  

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