Readers react to cosmic smashups and difficult spacecraft landings

A smash hit

In “A whole assortment of cosmic smashups” (SN: 1/30/21, p. 30), Emily Conover and Nadieh Bremer visualized each gravitational wave occasion noticed up to now.

Freelance knowledge visualization designer Nadieh Bremer “diminished an excruciatingly complicated topic, gravitational waves produced by cosmic collisions, into a really fascinating graphic. Emily Conover made it comprehensible,” reader Richard Polangin wrote. “Bravo to your very gifted employees!”

Reader Dave Proffitt seen the colliding black holes had been fairly large. “Why no detections within the [mass] vary of generally recognized black holes?”

It’s simpler for the LIGO and Virgo observatories to identify extra large mergers as a result of the gravitational waves are bigger. “So, it’s true that there are numerous detected occasions that had been fairly large. Nonetheless, there are a handful of detected occasions that contain fairly small black holes,” Conover says. One detection, represented within the illustration by the small circle at about 1.6 billion years, resulted from the merger of a black gap with about 8.Eight photo voltaic plenty and a black gap with about 5 photo voltaic plenty. “Three photo voltaic plenty is the decrease restrict for what may be confidently referred to as a black gap,” she says. “You possibly can’t get smaller than that with out it being tough to d­etermine whether or not it’s a black gap or a neutron star.”


Scientists are getting ingenious with methods to the touch down on Earth’s neighbors, Lisa Grossman reported in “ safely land on Venus or Europa” (SN: 1/30/21, p. 12).

Reader Michael Stebel was disenchanted that the story didn’t point out the Huygens probe, which landed on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005. “Though [the probe] despatched again knowledge and pictures for lower than six hours, it was an unbelievable achievement … particularly notable when one considers the gap concerned, the acute chilly and the thick hazy ambiance of Titan,” he wrote.

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