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January 2018
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Aerden [userpic]
Space Curvature and Spiral Galaxies

I was watching a show on the Science Channel last night in which they explained Einstein's theory of General Relativity. Einstein's notion was that space is curved, and the greater the mass/gravity of a body, the greater the degree of curvature around it. This theory came into being after astronomers discovered that Mercury's orbit shifts around the Sun like a Spirograph design.

It occurred to me last night that perhaps spiral galaxies, by their shape alone, prove this theory--because, presuming that space is curved, planets don't orbit the sun; they very slowly spiral in toward it. So I'd bet one could theorize that there are massive black holes at the centers of all spiral galaxies; that's why they have spiral shapes. Globular clusters probably don't.


Website Geekery: Check out the website for Houston Eye Associates. Run your mouse over the eye specialty links running down the left side of the screen and watch how the doctors' faces are obscured or displayed according to which specialty your mouse is over. That is really neat!

Current Mood: geekygeeky

As you may have guessed, you're not the first person to think of this. Frank Shu of UCLA worked out the theory of spiral density waves as the underlying reason for spiral structure in disk galaxies back in the late 60s and early 70s. There is a general relativistic effect at work, though it's more subtle than might be first assumed.

However, there's far more vivid proof of GR than galaxy shape. There are a number of gravitationally lensed galaxies that appear as multiple images of one distant galaxy because the light is bent around a closer galaxy. Those are pretty dramatic proof of GR.

Bill--Heh. yep, I figured I couldn't possibly be the first to notice this about spiral galaxies, since it's so simple. It's nice to at least know the reason/name for why we get the the spiral pattern.

Now, I knew about being able to see multiple images of one galaxy, but I had thought that was image diffraction caused by interstellar dust, similar to the way you get multiple eye images of something because of dust or even a cataract. I didn't realize that space curvature could cause that, too--though that is how they confirmed General Ralativity.


That's what proves people like us are virtually a different species to other 'humans'

I mean.

Can you imagine your average chav working that one out? :)

By the way. My Icon here is 'supposed' to be a version of Einstein's Unified Field Theory.

The first/last time i had the theory of relativity shown to me in a manner that i understood, it was done by having Jo Brand (fat bird) sit in the middle of a trampoline.

Totally true!

Yet it worked, cos i still understand it and feel dead clever for doing so!

Theo--That reminds me of the first time I read...either The Dragons of Eden or Broca's Brain--and finally understood what E=mc2 means.

You get a whole lot of energy out of a very little bit of matter.

I was astounded that it was so simple, yet everyone tries to make it seem so difficult a concept to understand.


That is extreemly cool!

Crys--*reads equation to self*

"One geeth equals (two-cee times the square root of one two-ceeth) to the two-ceeth, squared."

*brain locks*

That's neat, because I've never seen the actual equation for the Unified Field Theory before.

Yep, I agree with you about the chavs. Makes you wonder what does go on in their brains.


Apparently it equates the number of newton's (gravity measurement) needed to counteract the force of gravity.


It's one of those things that stuck in my head when I was younger.

I heard it on a audio tape about "UFO mysteries.