The mystery of XR-1

— 1:57 PM on January 16, 2001

We can't leave the topic of Macross and the military without talking about space just a little bit first.

This MSNBC article details the possible conclusive discovery of black holes. I can't say why, but the very concept of black holes has always piqued my imagination. It seems incredible that matter can actually fall in upon itself to such a point as it eventually becomes a tear in space that seeks to destroy any other matter that gets too close. I also think some of the wild theories that such tears might even represents tears in the fabric of time, like wormholes, is an intriguing prospect.

Joseph Dolan, of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, might very well have the evidence to prove that black holes exist. In his hunt, he has been researching old Hubble Space Telescope data of an object called Cygnus XR-1. Cygnus XR-1 is an object assumed to be a stellar black hole roughly six thousand light-years away.

In some images from 1992, he found some bright flashes of ultraviolet light that sputtered and then disappeared. Dolan is suggesting that the phenomenon, found in two separate instances, represent hot blobs of gas orbiting inward and spiraling though the event horizon.

Dolan will be presenting his findings this week before his peers at the American Astronomical Society in San Diego. We don't know yet whether his findings will be enough to satiate the scientific community. My perception seems to indicate nothing is conclusive enough to do that. Dolan admits there is a possibility XR-1 is not a black hole, but something more exotic. Such a possibility stands a chance to destroy some of Einstein's theories.

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