What happens when a black hole eats a neutron star?

German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein is someone who needs no introduction. Best known for developing the theory of relativity, Einstein has made several other important contributions as well.

Einstein had predicted the existence of gravitational waves - ripples in space-time caused by some of the most energetic processes in the universe - in 1916 in his general theory of relativity. It was nearly a 100 years later that gravitational waves were detected from the collision of two black holes for the first time in 2015. The first detection of a neutron star-neutron star collision took place in 2017. And now, finally, black hole-neutron star collisions have been observed.

Observed in January 2020

While the paper announcing the discovery of collisions between black holes and neutron stars beyond doubt was published in June 2021, the two collisions that were observed actually took place separately in January 2020.

The first one observed, on January 5, involved a black hole nine times massive when compared with our sun and a neutron star that is almost twice as massive as our sun. The second one on January 15 involved a black hole 5.7 times as massive as our sun and a neutron star that was 1.5 times massive when compared to our sun.

Types of merger

Before these observations, scientists weren't sure if the supermassive black holes will simply swallow the lighter neutron stars in a single bite or if the forces of the black hole would shred the neutron star before taking it in. The latter case would be accompanied by glowing debris, which can be picked up by powerful telescopes at our disposal even though they are taking place at astronomically vast distances.

Physicists were able to confirm that no glows or electromagnetic signals were detected in either of these collisions, meaning that the black holes swallowed the neutron stars in a single bite in these two instances at least. Scientists, however, haven't ruled out the possibility of future collisions producing glows or electromagnetic signals owing to the many factors that are at play.

The discovery of these collisions opens up a universe of possibilities for the scientists. Apart from getting us on the right path towards understanding how these binaries (two star systems) are formed, they could also tell us what proportion of the universe's heavier elements (gold, platinum, and others) are produced by such collisions.

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What is the origin of chameleon?

A chameleon is a very unique lizard that inhabits warm locations such as rainforests and deserts. They are known for their colour-changing abilities, long tongues, and unusual eye movements. The word chameleon comes from the Latin word chamaeleon, derived from Greek words chamai and leon, meaning ground and lion respectively. So, chameleon means lion on the ground. It is thought that the name refers to the ornate mane-shaped crests around the heads of some species.

The longest chameleon in the world is Parson’s chameleon (Calumma parsonii), which may grow up to 69.5 cm (about 27 inches) long. On the other hand, the world’s shortest chameleon, the male nano-chameleon (Brookesia nana), can be as small as 21.6 mm (about 0.9 inch) long. Most chameleons, however, are 17–25 cm (7–10 inches) long. The body is laterally compressed, the tail is sometimes curled, and the bulged eyes move independently of one another. Also, some chameleons possess helmet-shaped heads.

The chameleon’s specialized vision and a specialized tongue-projection system permit the capture of insects and even birds from a distance. The chameleon’s eyes are very good at detecting and regulating light. The lens of a chameleon’s eye is capable of focusing extremely rapidly, and it can enlarge visual images much like a telephoto lens. Although many other lizards also use the tongue to capture prey, most can expel it only a short distance. 

Credit : Britannica

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What is the origin of flamingo?

Flamingos are wading birds that are easily recognised by their long, stilt-like legs, and striking pink feathers. The bright pink colour comes from beta carotene, a red-orange pigment that's found in the algae and the shrimp that flamingos eat in their wetland environment. This flame-like appearance also gave them their name. In Portuguese and Spanish flamengo means flame-coloured. The genus name Phoenicopterus comes from the Greek word phoinikopteros, which means, "blood red-feathered".

To feed, flamingos tramp the shallows, head down and bill underwater, stirring up organic matter with their webbed feet. They eat various types of food, including diatoms, algae, blue-green algae, and invertebrates such as minute mollusks and crustaceans. While the head swings from side to side, food is strained from the muddy water with small comblike structures inside the bill. The bird’s pink colour comes from its food, which contains carotenoid pigments. The diet of flamingos kept in zoos is sometimes supplemented with food colouring to keep their plumage from fading.

Flamingos constitute the family Phoenicopteridae, which is the only family in the order Phoenicopteriformes. They are sometimes classified in the order Ciconiiformes (herons and storks) but also show similarities to anseriforms (ducks and geese), charadriiforms (shorebirds), and pelecaniforms (pelicans and cormorants).

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What is the origin of cobra?

Cobra is a species of highly venomous snakes, which expand the neck ribs to form a hood. These snakes are prevalent in India. It is believed that the Portuguese colonists in India gave the snakes their name. Cobra de capello is Portuguese for serpent of the hood or hooded serpent. Its genus name Naja has Indian origins, and may have derived from the Sanskrit word for snake Naga.

The world’s largest venomous snake is the king cobra, or hamadryad (Ophiophagus hannah). Found predominantly in forests from India through Southeast Asia to the Philippines and Indonesia, it preys chiefly on other snakes. Maximum confirmed length is 5.6 metres (18 feet), but most do not exceed 3.6 metres (12 feet). King cobras guard a nest of 20 to 40 eggs, which are laid in a mound of leaves gathered by the female. The guarding parent will strike if a predator or a person approaches too closely. Not all cobras are egg layers.

The Indian cobra (or Indian spectacled cobra, Naja naja) was formerly considered a single species with much the same distribution as the king cobra. Recently, however, biologists have discovered that nearly a dozen species exist in Asia, some being venom spitters and others not. They vary both in size (most ranging between 1.25 and 1.75 metres) and in the toxicity of their venom. Spitters propel venom through the fangs by muscular contraction of the venom ducts and by forcing air out of the single lung.

Credit : Britannica

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What is the origin of cormorant?

Cormorants are large water birds that live in coastal areas or near lakes and rivers, and are usually black, brown, or greyish. Cormorant comes from two Latin words: corvus meaning crow and marinus meaning marine. So, cormorant is another way of saying sea-crow. It may have had its origin in Cornish mythology. In the Comish tale of Jack the Giant Killer, Cormoran is a sea giant. Though cormorants have little in common with crows except for their black plumage, the birds were erroneously thought to be related to ravens till the 16th Century.

Cormorants inhabit seacoasts, lakes, and some rivers. The nest may be made of seaweed and guano on a cliff or of sticks in a bush or tree. The two to four chalky eggs, pale blue when fresh, hatch in three to five weeks, and the young mature in the third year.

Cormorants have a long hook-tipped bill, patches of bare skin on the face, and a small gular sac (throat pouch). The largest and most widespread species is the common, or great, cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo; white-cheeked, and up to 100 cm (40 inches) long, it breeds from eastern Canada to Iceland, across Eurasia to Australia and New Zealand, and in parts of Africa. It and the slightly smaller Japanese cormorant, P. capillatus, are the species trained for fishing. The most important guano producers are the Peruvian cormorant, or guanay, P. bougainvillii, and the Cape cormorant, P. capensis, of coastal southern Africa.

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