Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It All Fits Together!

I happened across this post in an economics blog recently. So there is such a thing as "behavioral economics", which attempts to get real with the view of participants in an economy as "rational agents". In particular, it looks at cognitive illusions, which have been discussed in this blog here, and here, among other places. Hmmm, both these posts reference the book "Inevitable Illusions", by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, but apparently I read it before I started blogging, I can't find a summary/review. It is a very good book on the subject of cognitive illusions, and an easy read.

So maybe there is some hope for economics after all! Here is a behavioral economics reading list.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Evidence for Kardashev Type III Civilizations!

Ha ha, just kidding. This is just for fun, and to post nice picures of unusual galaxies.

I have been saving astronomical pictures I like from APOD, HEASARC, ESA/Hubble, and Bad Astronomy for about 6 years now. The number is now ~1800 pictures. Most of the ~600 pictures in the Extragalactic folder are galaxies or clusters of galaxies. I was looking through these the other day, and, with an extremely overactive imagination, discovered several examples of Kardashev Type III civilizations!

Shields On!

This galaxy (NGC 4651) looks like it is sending a jet out the front that is then creating a shield around the galaxy! For offense or defense?

This galaxy is around 26 Mpc (megaparsec, around 3 million light years) away, on the outskirts of the Virgo Cluster. There does not appear to be any other nearby galaxy that could have caused the jet as a tidal effect.

When One Shield Is Not Enough!

OK, there is a galaxy nearby (NGC 470) to cause gravitational tidal effects, but, what, 5 concentric rings and 2 sets of extended shields??? Too much for tidal, must be a very paranoid civilization!

This galaxy is NGC 474, around 30 Mpc away, and is called a shell galaxy. There are not many of these, but I think that more sensitive telescopes will find more. The two galaxies together form Arp 227.

Nearby is another galaxy (NGC 467) also with faint shells. Here's a pic of all 3 galaxies:

This was featured in APOD here.

What Is This???

It actually has a name: Hoag's Object. But it doesn't have an NGC number or appear in any other catalogue of galaxies -- because IT IS SO WEIRD!

So maybe a bar instability cleaned out the space? Hard to believe that has only happened once -- no other galaxy looks like this one. Normal ring galaxies are formed when one galaxy punches through the center of another, like these two examples:

Notice how messy they are. And note that the entire ring shows lots of bright blue new star formation regions, created by the gravitational shock wave that the collision sent through the target galaxy's disk. Hoag's Object, on the other hand, has only what looks like a faint spiral arm running through the ring. Additionally, redshift data shows that the ring and the core are at the same distance and not moving relative to each other.

APOD has featured Hoag's Object 4 times, most recently here.

It just ain't right! Must be an advanced alien civilization! But, what are they building???

A Project Gone Bad

Yes Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) produce duel lobed radio emission (magenta) from jets perpendicular to the rotation of the massive central black hole. But the filaments? And the spirally stuff? And the dark clouds? Must be evidence of an extremely aggressive Kardashev Type III project gone horribly wrong.

This is actually one of my favorite galaxies of all time. NGC 1275 is the largest galaxy in the Perseus Cluster (Abell 426). It is around 73 Mpc away. Even at that distance, the Perseus Cluster is the brightest extragalactic X-ray source in the sky. There have been several great pictures of NGC 1275 since Hubble went up, and I still can't figure what the hell is going on. Here's more pix, the latter 2 with overlays taken in non-optical wavelengths:

Here is the central part of the Perseus Cluster with NGC 1275 on the left:

So, will our galaxy someday support a Kardashev Type III civilization? I guess I hope so. Just get human civilization through the next 30-40 years and we'll be ready to get right on it!