Saturday morning astronomy news roundup

Black holes of a feather flock together, and this means the popular ‘unification model’ of active galaxies is probably wrong. Virtually all galaxies have a supermassive black hole in the center, but in active galaxies, the black hole is actively feeding on gaseous and stellar material and kicking out a huge amount of energy. The unification model attempted to explain the different types of active galaxies as really the same type of galaxy viewed from different angles, but new results from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) show that active galaxies of one type cluster differently than active galaxies of another type, indicating that the differences are intrinsic.

Astronomers at SETI think we’ll make contact with an alien intelligence within 20 years. This is based on the sheer number of stars in our neighborhood (lots) and the recent discoveries by the Kepler space observatory hinting that at least 70% of the stars in our galaxy have Earth-size-ish planets orbiting around them. If any of those planets have liquid water on them, the conditions may be favorable for life. There are a lot of ‘ifs’ leading to the possibility of intelligent life on other planets, but given the hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone, some astronomers think the odds are pretty good.

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