Rubin’s Galaxy Ramblings

By Harley White posted 10-13-2021 07:24


Image Credit: NASA, ESA, B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)

Rubin’s Galaxy Ramblings

They call UGC Two Eight Eight Five
a ‘gentle giant’ since it appears
to quietly have sat in its hive,
with star birth over billions of years
quite modest, at rate of half compared
to that of our birthplace Milky Way,
hence adding fuel, searchers declared,
perhaps by nibbling from grand buffet
of hydrogen in filament frames
profuse in intergalactic space,
or structures vast whatever their names,
to give its growth a mellower pace
in lieu of devouring neighbor groups
to bring it to such colossal girth
as others have done in greedy swoops,
much like some humans on planet Earth.
The huge galactic barred spiral has
within it around a trillion stars
which comes to ten times as many as
our Milky Way’s total ‘nears and fars’.
It’s constellation Perseus— ‘he
that son of Danaë who, men tell,’
as said by Pindar in poesy,
‘flowed forth from a golden stream to dwell’,
the dreaded Gordon Medusa slew,
inspiring many a work of art,
and on the fabled Pegasus flew,
a mythic hero that moves the heart—
by Ptolemy tagged, in northern sky
wherein the starry assemblage holds
this Brobdingnagian band on high
which myriad stellar orbs enfolds.
While figures differ on width across
it’s been declared greatly wider than
the Milky Way’s diameter toss
if star were flung to traverse its span.
This lofty galaxy just may be
the largest known so far in our ken
in ‘local universe’, to degree
nearby and stable from now to then.
Astronomer Vera Rubin sought
through studies of spirals such as these
to find what caused them to have been wrought
into those awesome enormities.
She also explored the hows and whys
of galaxy rotation which led
regarding the spiral’s jumbo size
for her to pioneer novel thread
and deem dark matter as sure enough
by science’s sleight of hand okay
since actually it’s abstract stuff
and thus cannot be observed per se.
So this galaxy’s her eponym,
for much of the spiral’s mass it’s said
which dominates on the cosmic scrim
is matter invisible instead.
Though nary a shred of evidence
of its existence, some solid sign
apart from purported prevalence
has been detected, yet all incline
to accept this matter dark unseen
as some sort of substance that is there
in spaces and places in between;
what form it takes they don’t seem to care.
As dark matter joined the mainstream bent
the concept became more normalized.
Now scientists say eighty percent
of mass in universe is comprised
of this bizarre ingredient, which
emits no light or energy, but
the motions of stars revealing glitch
make such a substance appear clear-cut.
Because of her gender often barred,
still Rubin rose in her chosen field,
till she as ‘national treasure’ starred
and ‘mongst her colleagues esteem was sealed.
Young Vera at tender age of ten
showed interest in astronomy
and was captivated even then
by questions more than the answers; she
decided at that early age, ‘we
inhabit very curious world’,
believing science ideally
should help us to see our role unfurled
within the universe; plus she tried
to do her science by moral mode,
while many this code their acts belied,
a legacy she indeed bestowed.
Her story goes, she simply could not
imagine living upon our globe
without seeking how universe got
to work as it does, and so to probe
as astro-scientist in career,
albeit women required more luck,
through learning motions of starry sphere
and persevered with plenty of pluck.
At first her views were mostly ignored
as too controversial for accord,
until she teamed up with male Kent Ford,
a fellow gazer who got on board
to lend advanced spectrometer’s scope
and jointly probe how spirals revolve
which helped her climb the acceptance slope
when findings brought surprise to resolve,
for outer and inner had same rate,
suggesting extra gravity state
was affected by a hidden trait
that intervened as portions rotate
and opened wide dark matter debate
this time with approval on her side
promoting at last her valued fate
by dint of having a man allied.
The evidence, Rubin-Ford effect,
proposed by Fritz Zwicky years before
to be dark matter then gained respect
and served to unlock admission’s door.
‘In spiral galaxy,’ she avowed,
‘the dark-to-light matter ratio
would be with factor of ten endowed,
in terms of how much we fail to know
related to so-called knowledge, or
at third grade level,’ to paraphrase…
Yet, knowledge is neither wisdom nor
a beacon through mind’s perplexing maze.
Though fixed in cosmic vernacular,
dark matter remains a mystery.
However quasi-spectacular,
judging from past checkered history
we also must keep feet on the ground
lest all our stargazing be in vain,
forgetting not this earthly surround
nor let its hereness breed our disdain.
While wisdom is built on knowledge, still
it’s not a product of schooling taught
but rather journey of lifelong will
to thus acquire it, in Einstein’s thought.
Mankind has to have perspective wise
and insight into the use of ‘facts’
plus all the awareness that implies,
for louder than words shall speak our acts.
~ Harley White
* * * * * * * * *
Some sources of inspiration were the following…
Perseus ~ Greek Mythology…
 ‘Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.’
~Albert Einstein
“My life has been an interesting voyage. I became an astronomer because I could not imagine living on Earth and not trying to understand how the Universe works. My scientific career has revolved around observing the motions of stars within galaxies and the motions of galaxies within the Universe… Women generally required more luck and perseverance than men did. It helped to have supportive parents and a supportive husband.”
~ Vera Rubin
 ‘In a spiral galaxy, the ratio of dark-to-light matter is about a factor of 10. That’s probably a good number for the ratio of our ignorance-to-knowledge. We’re out of kindergarten, but only in about third grade.’
~ Vera Rubin
Vera Rubin and Dark Matter…
National Science Foundation ~ Vera Rubin (1928 -- 2016)
Rubin’s Galaxy ~ Astronomy Picture of the Day, 2021 September 18
Spiral Galaxy UGC 2885 (Hubble Site)…
Explanation: The Hubble Space Telescope photograph showcases the majestic spiral galaxy UGC 2885, located 232 million light-years away in the northern constellation Perseus. The galaxy is about 2.5 times wider than our Milky Way and contains 10 times as many stars. A number of foreground stars in our Milky Way can be seen in the image, identified by their diffraction spikes. The brightest star photobombs the galaxy’s disk. The galaxy has been nicknamed “Rubin’s galaxy”, after astronomer Vera Rubin (1928 – 2016), who studied the galaxy’s rotation rate in search of dark matter. Her work was the first to convincingly demonstrate the dominating presence of dark matter in our universe.
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, B. Holwerda (University of Louisville)