Johns Hopkins Gazette: December 11, 1995


Black hole discovered at center of a distant galaxy     

     The Hopkins astronomers who recently discovered a
super-massive black hole located in the center of a galaxy about
100 million light-years from Earth, estimate its mass to be
equivalent to 1.2 billion suns.
     And they all are compressed into a space the size of a
     The black hole--discovered by Hopkins graduate student Laura
Ferrarese and Professor Holland Ford and astronomer Walter Jaffe,
of Leiden University in the Netherlands, using the Hubble Space
Telescope--is surrounded by a disk of dust and gas spinning at
speeds of up to 1 million miles per hour. Their findings were
announced last week at the European Space Agency in Paris.
     It is the third confirmed black hole. Only a year ago, the
phenomena were considered hypothetical, but the recent
discoveries have ushered in a new field of astronomy research--
"black hole demographics," Ford said.
     The question is no longer, Do black holes exist?
     "We are now asking questions like, Does every galaxy have a
massive black hole in its center?" Ford said. "'What are the
masses of black holes? How did they get there?'"


APL-built experiment taking ride aboard Galileo 

     NASA's Galileo spacecraft--which entered orbit around
Jupiter on Dec. 7 after a six-year, 2.3 billion mile journey--
carries an energetic particles detector developed by the Applied
Physics Laboratory and Germany's Max Planck Institute for
     The detector--one of 10 scientific instruments aboard
Galileo--is designed to measure the composition, distribution and
energy spectra of high-energy charged particles trapped in
Jupiter's powerful magnetic field. 
     "In combination with other ... instruments, we expect to
answer fundamental questions ... not just about Jupiter's
magnetospheric dynamics, but also about the magnetic environments
at Earth, at the other planets in our solar system and throughout
the cosmos," said principal investigator Donald J. Williams,
director of the APL Research Center.


Low protein diet before dialysis may be beneficial

     Researchers at the School of Medicine have found that a
low-protein diet before dialysis may prolong the lives of kidney
failure patients during the first two years of dialysis. The
findings, reported in the current issue of the Journal of the
American Society of Nephrology, also suggest the diet may
postpone the start of dialysis for some patients.
     The 44 patients in the study ate no meat, fish, poultry,
eggs, milk or cheese and took tablets of amino acids or synthetic
substitutes to make up for the lack of essential components
normally provided by protein. Researchers cannot explain why the
restrictive diet helps, but they do say it appears to prepare
patients for the rigors of dialysis.
     "The study suggests that changes in pre-dialysis care could
reduce the number of deaths on dialysis substantially," said lead
author Josef Coresh, an assistant professor of epidemiology.

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