Feverish imaginings

February 23, 2011

Last week I gave a popular talk about Active Galaxies, part of the ROE Winter Talks series. Good turn out, some sharp questions, and if there were any nutters they were keeping quiet. Pleasant evening. If you want to see the slides, they are available at the jolly ole personal web page. You won’t get the full effect though, as I like interspersing the pretty pix with impersonations of the Doppler Effect, and demonstrations of Gravity Power by dropping things on me foot etc etc. Rule number one : do everything in threes. Rule number two : wake ’em up every so often. I think of this as a variant on Brechtian alienation. Rule number three : never patronise. Simple is good, colourful analogies bad. This is why P.B.Cox is so good I think. He’s very concrete, and tells the truth.

Every so often of course you show some gaudy picture of a black hole swallowing stuff or such like. Its good at this point to pause and look ’em in the eye and say “… you do know this is an artist’s impression, right ? Wish we had data that good … Anyway…”. Today on the interwebs I came across a wonderful example of runaway impressionisation, if thats the word I want, in a Gemini press release. This reports what looks like a rather nice piece of work by Sylvain Veilleux and others; a GMOS IFU observation of a high velocity conical wind flowing out of nearby Active Galaxy MKN 231. (I think its the nearest BAL QSO ..)

Exhibit A : the actual data.

Some of the squares look a bit different from the other squares.

Some quite interesting data.

MKN 231 in all its horrific glory

Exhibit B : artistic rendering.

Crikey. I’m standing well back from that, mate.

The beast up close

MKN 231, an artist's crude approximation

Hmm. Thinks. Can I get that Lynette Cook to knock me up a really scary warped disk ? Thats what Martin and I should have had for this paper.