Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mysterious Globular Clusters

Globular clusters -- huge, ball-shaped clusters of stars -- are some of the most beautiful objects in the astronomers' telescopes.

There are about 200 of them positioned around the core of our galaxy.

But, after that, they don't make much sense.

Astronomers maintain that our galaxy is a gravitational thing -- that the gravity generated by the whole of the galaxy upon the stars within it keeps the stars in place, here, where our galaxy is, in space.

Yet, astronomers say that the evidence within the globular clusters is that the stars they are by-and-large made-of are very, very, old, suggesting that the clusters have an age of around 12 billion years. If they are that old and have been hanging around our galaxy for that long a time, why haven't they been pulled into the galaxy? Why hasn't gravity pulled each cluster and the galaxy together?

And if each globular cluster is itself a gravitational object, why hasn't gravity caused each globular cluster to collapse in upon itself, at the point of its own core?

Our astronomers answer, "Orbiting. Within each globular cluster, the stars orbit around a common center, perhaps around a black hole. And each globular cluster, as a unit, doesn't fall into the core of our galaxy, because each orbits around the core of our galaxy, in-and-out of the plate of our galaxy."

But each of those answers generates questions of its own.

If each globular cluster is orbiting the center of our galaxy, how come the globulat clusters are each so wonderfully organized? They are balls of stars, for heaven's sake. If one spiral galaxy passes through another, mutual gravitational attraction causes them to self-destruct. It's a mess!

Globular clusters in cluster/spiral galaxy collisions are subject to the exact same gravitational forces. If each globular cluster splashes through the galactic plate about once every 125 million years -- that's about 100 "splashes" altogether since each cluster came into existence -- shouldn't each cluster give some evidence of this, in the telescope -- at least a few of them should have been visibly elongated by the encounter!

But, no, there are no misshapen globular clusters -- not even among the ones a short distance from the galactic plate.

And if each globular cluster does not collapse in upon itself, because each cluster's stars are all orbiting around each cluster's own core, then why haven't the clusters each formed itself into a mini-spiral galaxy. Billions of years of close passes between member stars within each cluster quickly "shakes out" any wonderful ball shape and organizes the batch of stars into a happy spiral shape, reflecting the plane accidentally having the "predominating" mass, rotating around the core.

Yet there is not any organization of the internal motion at all!

Each cluster is perfect!

And, if any of the clusters have a black hole at its core, then shouldn't there be reports of high-speed stars visibly orbiting the black hole core at fantastic rates of speed.

When astronomers aimed their telescopes at the incipient black hole at our galaxy's center, they were astonished when they realized that they could actually see stars in the act of orbiting at absurdly high rates of speed.

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