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APRIL

07

2019

    ENVIRONMENT & ECOLOGY

    Neelakurinji (Strobilanthes Kunthiiana)

    News: Will Neelakurinji bloom next season?
    Source: The Hindu

    Wildlife experts say the recent large-scale wildfires on the grasslands where Neelakurinji (Strobilantheskunthiiana) blossomed widely last year after a period of 12 years could have wiped out all the seeds of the endemic flowers from the area.

    Neelakurinji seeds are sensitive without a hard cover and are unlikely to survive a massive fire. As a habitat, the Western Ghats is known for its rare collection of flora and fauna. There are some rare orchids in the area and even a flash of fire could destroy the seeds. The grasslands are important agents for protecting the biodiversity, both for plants and animal species. The damage done by a wildfire to its ecosystem would depend on the intensity of it.

    Kurinji or Neelakurinji (Strobilantheskunthianus) is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India. Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years.

    SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

    Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)

    News: Get ready to see the first ever picture of a black hole.
    Source: The Hindu

    The EHT is an international collaboration that has formed to continue the steady long-term progress on improving the capability of Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at short wavelengths in pursuit of this goal. This technique of linking radio dishes across the globe to create an Earth-sized interferometer, has been used to measure the size of the emission regions of the two supermassive black holes with the largest apparent event horizons: SgrA* at the center of the Milky Way and M87 in the center of the Virgo A galaxy. In both cases, the sizes match that of the predicted silhouette caused by the extreme lensing of light by the black hole. Addition of key millimeter and submillimeter wavelength facilities at high altitude sites has now opened the possibility of imaging such features and sensing the dynamic evolution of black hole accretion. The EHT project includes theoretical and simulation studies that are framing questions rooted at the black hole boundary that may soon be answered through observations.

    Black Hole

    A black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting such strong gravitational effects that nothing—not even particles and electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from inside it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole. The boundary of the region from which no escape is possible is called the event horizon. Although the event horizon has an enormous effect on the fate and circumstances of an object crossing it, no locally detectable features appear to be observed. In many ways a black hole acts like an ideal black body, as it reflects no light. Moreover, quantum field theory in curved spacetime predicts that event horizons emit Hawking radiation, with the same spectrum as a black body of a temperature inversely proportional to its mass. This temperature is on the order of billionths of a kelvin for black holes of stellar mass, making it essentially impossible to observe.