Author Archives: Katie Curtis

Light curves by class

Why are there no green stars?

There are red stars, orange stars, yellow stars, and blue stars. Why no green stars? A star (or other hot object) emits light across the entire visible spectrum, but the wavelength at which it shines brightest depends on its temperature. Hotter stars emit proportionately more blue light than red; for cooler ones it's the...

M87

What’s the density of the black hole in galaxy M87?

On page 20 of the March 2004 issue, you say the 3-billion-solar-mass black hole in the center of the galaxy M87 has an average density about that of air. I would love to understand how this makes any sense. The diameter of a black hole scales directly with its mass. That is, if you...

Four Galilean moons shadows

Can all four Galilean moons cast their shadows on Jupiter ’s disk at the same time? No. A triple shadow transit is as good as it gets (S&T: July 2004, page 94). The motions of the three inner moons are gravitationally locked so that, as English astronomer George B. Airy wrote more than a...