Look into the hole


In the Russian space exploration has begun a new era. After launching into space observatory "Radioastron", which will be considered with unprecedented accuracy black holes and tunnels in the search for other worlds, we went back to the most advanced positions in science.
Launching a satellite into orbit, Russia has created the world’s largest telescope. Together with the ground stations of its size — 330 000 kilometers. For the realization of this project took twenty-five years
"Zenith" was launched on July 18 at 8:00 31 minutes, local time, or at 6.31 Moscow time. The rocket went quietly into an afternoon blue sky, at the observation post followed her fifteen people. Another hundred people settled on the railroad tracks near where the visibility was a little better. There were mostly astronomers, who came to see her at the beginning of a new science, and those same engineers, many of which have 25 years of work on "Radioastron" — their whole life. Launch took place as usual. All breathed a sigh of relief.

However, still had to be nervous.

Uncover dish had five days after the start-up — July 22. But at the center of the flight control information about it all day did not confirm. Later in the afternoon, when passions ran high, there was a rumor that "Radioastron" could not open the antenna. For the Russian science is meant disaster. And for the people who gave the project a quarter century — the collapse of life.

But it was not so bad.

— OK, — explained Larissa Likhachev, executive director of the project. — For all circumstantial evidence antenna opened. But there is no direct evidence: apparently, the sensor something. So they pulled the antenna back and forth all day. Now the back of the unit deployed to the Sun that it is heated evenly, and will try again tomorrow to test. You know, they have — in the Lavochkin — never more so smooth start did not go through, as this time. And now that all is well before it was, they want a hundred and twenty percent to be sure that we convey the machine in working order.

The next day, the designers have submitted their 120%.

— Everything works — said to me, Sergei Likhachev, the husband of Larisa, who is responsible for the processing of project data. — To disclose.

Now the ten-antenna will fly on an elongated orbit around the Earth, moving away from it for 330 thousand kilometers, now closer to five. It will work in sync with many terrestrial radio telescopes — so we kind of get a large telescope with an antenna diameter in those same 330 thousand kilometers and an angular resolution of thirty times more than what has so far managed to achieve on Earth.

And she will learn wormholes.

The inevitable future
About eight years ago I happened to fill out a questionnaire that was the question: "Your main disappointment in life?" "The collapse of the Soviet space program," — I replied immediately.

In the eighties it seemed: a little more, and travel to Mars and the city on the moon will become a reality. But replaced them nineties and zero brought disappointment. It became clear that the moon, we will continue to see the same as our primitive ancestors — in the sky, and Mars will be only in the fantasies of the Institute of Biomedical Problems, locking people in a prison cell for 500 days, ostensibly to prepare for the flight back in 2035 about year.

No, the world science has not gone out of space. Americans, departing from the moon, suddenly began to run in batches scientific apparatus, and a little later they were joined by the Europeans and Japanese. The opening of one another surprising committed Monthly: exoplanets, water on Mars, Titan’s atmosphere, dark energy, CMB spectrum, the magnetic field of the Sun, Mercury, photos, soil asteroid, comet explosion — all this has been studied and studied a new generation of spacecraft near and far space.

Even manned flights have found place: the Americans four times to send an expedition to the telescope "Hubble" to have it repaired, and the telescope has given us these pictures from the edge of the universe, what our ancestors from the Stone Age could not see with all our respect to them. Russia participated in this festival only in theory. That is, our physics and astrophysics theorists were and still are the best in the world (this is confirmed by two dozen names, starting with Friedman and Gamow, Shklovsky and Sunyaev Zel’dovich and finishing, Starobinsky and Linda). But scientific apparatus in space with Russia is long gone, and the few attempts launches ended in failure in recent years, as the fallen "Mars-96" or shut up "Coronas-Photon".

Actually, the project Astro Space Center of Lebedev Physical Institute (FIAN ASC) under the direction of academician Nikolai Kardashev and NPO. Lavochkin was for Russian science, on the one hand, the last chance, and on the other — the most ambitious project. This device was going to look Kardashev wormholes. A few years ago, he excitedly told me about them:

"Wormhole — this is a tunnel that connects the different parts of space. Entrance to the tunnel may be the size of a star, a planet, a house, a speck of dust. And if you dive there, it emerges elsewhere. You can get to the other side of our galaxy, it is possible — in another galaxy, you can — in another universe … From there you can send radio signals to communicate, and you can even watch through this tunnel, which is on the other end — if you move the telescope. "

The telescope was originally expected to do and run for six years, but the story dragged on for a quarter century, because several times interrupted funding. As a result of the agreement were strewed with foreign participants of the project has left some people, some appliances are re-created, but in the end the observatory made by the same team of engineers that started. And, of course, it turned out that wormholes — only a part of the scientific program, even though the most interesting to the public, but also the most vague.

— First, we need to show that such objects do have — Kardashev said.

In general, "Radioastron" — on the one hand, greetings from the days when the city on the moon seemed inevitable future, and on the other — evidence that Russia is still able to carry out projects worldwide.

Black Hole — a view from Baikonur. Baikonur — view from space
— Our colleagues from the Russian Space Agency and the NPO. Lavochkin said the completion of a large project, and for us this is just the beginning — says astronomer Yuri Kovalev, a senior researcher at the ASC LPI.

Yuri I calculated in Baikonur cafe "Starry Sky" on the day before the launch of the device "Spektr-R" (so-called cosmic element of "Radioastron"): a man of around thirty to forty translated the menu into English ten foreigners. Foreigners were clearly academic type, and interpreter — a T-shirt with a picture of the telescope and the inscription, which indicated that it is a famous hundred-meter Green Bank, one of the largest telescopes in the world and the largest of those whose antenna can be deployed anywhere in the sky .

We met. It turned out that George did the team of scientists who came to look at the launch that the scientists and engineers came quite a lot — a plane that basically they are not at work, and to "just look" that most interested Yuri active galactic nuclei, and that for the study of these nuclei
in the past year, he won the F. Bredikhina Academy of Sciences, which is awarded for outstanding work in the field of astronomy.

With Kovalev and his colleague, a young graduate student Sergey Pilipenko, we walk on Baikonur, and I listen to the stories of what to expect from the work of "Radioastron."

— If, during the start-up goes well and all the equipment will function properly in orbit, we will wait for the first results — the detection of petals. It is the professional jargon. And if you convert into ordinary language, this means that we have to put things in orbit and ground antennas at a bright light source in space and get the correlation signals. This proves that our interferometer — which is how the whole system is called — works.

In general, according to Yuri, the first three months of leave for engineering testing machine, and then will look for those same petals, and about six months later to begin the actual research program.

One of the first objects of observation will be the most active galactic nuclei, which deals with Kovalev. The meaning of the word "active" is the following: the center of a galaxy is very bright lights in virtually the entire spectrum — from radio waves that we can not see, to gamma rays, which we also did not see (somewhere between the two, however, there are usually visible light). It is believed that glows black hole located there. Sounds, of course, it’s strange, because everyone knows that a black hole — an object with tremendous gravity, suction any substance inside, and the outside is not producing anything. Even light can not get out of its borders, it is so great the force of gravity. But just as a powerful attraction is the reason that glow surrounding the black hole area.

The black hole at the center of the galaxy — a common occurrence. We have, in the Milky Way, it also is. Not the biggest, just 3-4 million times the mass of the Sun. It would be natural to be observing it. But first, it emits a rather weak, because they do not have time to gather a lot of substance, and second, somewhere in the galaxy between it and the Earth are clouds of interstellar dust that it is simply closed. Bad it can be seen, in general.

— There is a galaxy M 87, another name — Virgo A, — said Kovalev. — It is very close to us, only 16 megaparsecs. At its center is a supermassive black hole — a mass of six billion suns. And there are very good conditions for observation. Linear resolution, which we can get comparable to the Schwarzschild radius (the Schwarzschild radius — the border of the black hole from which light can not fly because of gravity. — "PP").

— And what can be seen at such distances?

— To be an optimist, you can expect to see an accretion, ie dust, drive, or even the so-called donut — gas moving around the black hole. This is the first opportunity to directly observe objects of this magnitude! I think that the size of the Virgin And — a few light-days, that is about a dozen solar systems. The same can be said of the jet material ejected black hole. They are very narrow and can be seen from Earth as strings, and all that is inside — a mystery. If we’re lucky, "Radioastron" just show their internal structure. If it works, it will be a great achievement, because many people still do not believe that black holes exist!

The same thing, only about even smaller objects, said to me, Karl Gwynn, professor of physics at the University of California, one of the leading experts in the world on pulsars — dead cores of former stars, formed after the supernova explosion. We were sitting in the evening in the lobby of the hotel "Central", the American said of his favorite pulsars in which a substance is compressed so much that the atoms decayed into neutrons, tightly packed inside the star.

— What do I expect from the "Radioastron?" — Gwynne, even for a moment in thought. — Pulsars are very small: the star may be only about 15 kilometers in diameter. Because of this size is difficult to determine the distance to them and their exact position in space. A "Radioastron" can do it. And then there’s the idea that the interstellar gas can serve as a lens to concentrate the rays and the pulsar. Then we’ll just see an image of a pulsar here. Something no one has ever seen! Imagine — a small object! If this works out, we will be able to see even the phase of rotation, and not just a brief flash of radiation.

It sounded unreal — 15 miles, is … well, a little more of Baikonur cosmodrome and significantly less. And what you can see from there, from the galaxy when you move here any device with an even higher resolution? That will see the hypothetical aliens (which all my life, by the way, wants to find the same Academician Nikolai Kardashev)? Modal town, walled perimeter living in it a few tens of thousands of people whose main occupation — to launch rockets into space, the desert around small trees, which grow on the local red earth only allows irrigation water Syr Darya. They will see located in the geometric pattern of three-storey building barracks recognizable architecture, the streets almost without cars, because they have nowhere to go here especially, a lot of coffee and a bunch of cosmic symbolism: they model rocket on a pedestal, where the missile itself, on a portrait of Gagarin in his helmet, yet more cafe "Starry Sky". In general, netsivilno.

30 years without a telescope
Technical building complex launch vehicles "Zenith" in Baikonur — an oasis of comfort the officer. Opposite the abandoned barracks of the military units around the desert, and here below whitewashed trees, swept asphalt and polite guard, dub grabelkami dry land on the edges of gazonchik. Two days before the start of the rocket take out of the hangar to the pad number 45, where it is finally ready for launch.

— How is your company lives? — I ask Alexander Degtyarev, chief designer at the same time CEO CB "South", which has made the booster.

— OK. The basis of the strategic forces of the Russian Federation remain our missiles. We in fact have been the mainstay of the Soviet Union’s missile industry, and is now in service with the SS-18, if on the U.S. classification.

— And to run — continues to Degtyarev — our "Zenith" was chosen because it best meets the characteristics. In fact, this three-stage rocket, because as part of the payload is the upper stage "Fregat". He brings the machine into a high orbit. He’s over there — the designer points out somewhere on the head of the missile, which is a slow locomotive takes out of the hangar.

When the rocket reaches the start, is the construction of settlements. It looks like this: at a command post in a few rows there are hundreds of people, and some of their chief commanding voice coaxes:

— The compacted schedule, 23 hours … No hope for memory! An instruction book! Memory — good book — the better … Launch Complex — the object of increased danger! .. Only those personnel who have provided … More discipline on communication … No lyrics, no derogation … Started buffet should not be … when all thrown everything and run for the pies …

As small children.

Rocket finally raised to a vertical position, and the few idle people who are on the site moved after her shadow — noon, hot. At the top of the rocket under the cowl that for which employed thousands of people — the device "Spektr-R", the space segment of the interferometer "Radioastron". It consists of an antenna, scientific equipment and platforms, "Navigator", developed by NPO. Lavochkin.

— We have so many years of not running into space sophisticated scientific devices such as this. How is it able to make it? — I asked the next day Boris Novikov, technical manager of the
project "Radioastron."

— Starichkov saved. The project made unique specialists. Elite. And at the Institute for Space Studies, and ASC FIAN, and NPO. Lavochkin. — Novikov starts talking about people calling dozens of names, and who do not call — all the "amazing and beautiful." However, he Novikov — also practically a legend of our scientific space exploration. For 42 years of work he was involved in dozens of start-ups and all, unfortunately, a few projects of the past 25 years has worked with "Vegami" summer to Halley’s Comet, with X-ray Observatory "Garnet", and now combines the work of chief designer (for scientific equipment ) and the technical director of the project "Phobos-Grunt" which starts the satellite of Mars in the fall.

— This project has almost thirty years, the work was … painfully slow, and the present funding began, I think, about five years ago. Indeed, ever since we lost the "Mars-96", which I also put a few years, we have not run anything like that. But there are solutions! Here’s the antenna, for example. In NPO. Lavochkin is an amazing person — Vladimir Serebrennikov. He figured out how to make a folding antenna. Its carbon fiber petals folded at startup, then it is revealed curvilinear, and each petal — and there are twenty seven — to stand up to the special lock. And all the locks should work together. Or, for example, hydrogen frequency standards — they are necessary to reconcile the observations at the space and ground-based telescopes. No one has ever launched such devices in space.

Novikov continues to talk about the technology and the people who did it, and I, in general, is ready for it: its engineers can talk for hours, trying to explain such details, which requires a complete understanding of the course of a special university.

— Then the uncomfortable question — I interrupted. — Why, after a fifteen-year hiatus from all the projects we have chosen to implement the most complex?

— Because it is a continuation of the work we have started a long time ago. Wanted to finish the job!

Space as a concept
After the launch of "Zenith" Vladimir Popovkin, head of Roscosmos, alone going back and forth in front of the cabin vantage point, listening to broadcast: "320 seconds, the normal flight … 460 seconds, axial overload rocket OK … 500 seconds, the steady movement of the rocket …" And so to the 520-th second, when the head unit separated from the media and the "Spektr-R" was released into orbit.

He was obviously nervous. In general, it seems, with the head of Roscosmos lucky.

— Personally, what do you think: what space do we need? — I ask.

— That’s what I thought for a minute off our entire space group and look after, as Russia will live. There will be no communication, no phone, no navigation. Stop banks. Will collapse. That is a pragmatic task is simple: you have to build something that is used on Earth.

— Well and development? Science?

— As a first step we chose telescopes. "Spektr-R" — the first unit, we will be behind him every two years to launch a new telescope. The following is an X-ray, and then — ultraviolet, then — millimeter. In fact, these observatories, we will block the entire wavelength range in which the observable universe. Secondly, you need to visit other planets. A person with a "one-way ticket" does not want to send — you need to think how to get it back. Perhaps for the first time on Mars is not necessary to sit down and simply fly around it. The scientific part of the program so we shape: Space Council of the Academy of Sciences is preparing a proposal, and we are considering the financial possibilities and start to work. In addition, we have established strategic council, which includes the most influential people of the Academy of Sciences and of the industry.

In general, I liked Popovkin. That clearly wants to meaningful action on any item, from a promising device for astronauts to the style of work with the press. In addition, it is not quite soldafonstva, despite the fact that a person several years of space forces commander and Roscosmos came from the Ministry of Defence.

And it is very important that this person has a request: almost everyone with whom I spoke — and journalists, and missile crews, and astronomers — saying that it is this they need and they are afraid that it will remove all of a sudden.

Schwarzschild radius
After three and a half hours after starting the upper stage "Fregat" leads "Spectrum" from low orbit, sending him flying over 330 million kilometers from Earth. After that, the press is finally Nikolai Kardashev, flatly refused to speak before the launch. At a short briefing, he appears with the general designer of NPO. Lavochkin Victor Hartovym and two representatives of the Russian Federal Space Agency.

— The class of objects to be studied, very wide: distant objects — quasars, big explosions, the behavior of super-massive black holes, the gravitational field of the Earth. There may be white holes may tunnels in other spaces. It all relates to new physics, we will investigate it. The first observations of the objects we have chosen them about two or three dozen, and they are very bright. Now we will see in detail what is still to be seen from Earth as a dot of light. There are dozens of theories to predict how s of them are correct, it is impossible.

— How likely is it to detect tunnels in other spaces, wormholes?

— These powerful extragalactic sources of radiation may well be the primary wormholes or black holes were formed at the birth of the universe, the first blast. Resolution "Radioastron" is higher than the diameter of the event horizon, which gives the general theory of relativity. So, we can see the details of the object — the polarization characteristics of radiation. We will be able to identify wormholes, if they exist in space.

Kardashev already under eighty, but when he talks about the tunnels in space, his eyes go berserk. With such energy, these tunnels will certainly find it. He found a way to keep the project within a period of thirty years, and show young people that our country is also something that can.

In general, it seems, the Russian space begins again.

Like this post? Please share to your friends: