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A living memory chip, black holes on the loose, and a clearer picture of ocean currents

dds that one of them will streak through our solar system are small enough that we need not fear a sudden obliteration.

A second study, conducted by Abraham Loeb of Harvard University, examines the possibility of detecting a black hole that has been kicked by gravitational recoil. If the black hole is surrounded by a ring of gas, it will emit light and resemble a star-like object known as a quasar.

A quasar exists when the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy rapidly acquires gas. As a result, the gas near the black hole heats up and radiates several times as much energy as the Milky Way. A quasar that is displaced from galactic core may well be a kicked black hole. Unfortunately, it would require a real stroke of luck to catch one in action - the gas fueling the light would only last about ten million years, so an ejected black hole would be dark by the time it left its galaxy. -KM


A Clearer Picture of Ocean Currents

G. Froyland, K. Padberg, M. H. England, A. M. Treguier
Physical Review Letters, forthcoming (preprint available)
Research contacts: Gary Froyland (g.froyland@unsw.edu.au, +61 2 9385 7050) and Matthew England (M.England@unsw.edu.au, +61-2-9385-7065)

A novel analysis of water flow in the Southern Ocean surrounding the Antarctic is revealing previously hidden structures that are crucial in controlling the transport of drifting plants and animals as well as the distribution of nutrients and pollutants that affect ocean life. Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia and the Universitat Paderborn in Germany discovered that barriers to currents, which can lead to swirling gyres and eddies that trap material for long periods, may escape detection with traditional analyses that concentrate on monitoring average water flow or sea surface height.

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Contact: James Riordon
riordon@aps.org
301-209-3238
American Physical Society
29-May-2007


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