Category Archives: Black Holes

A Rapidly Spinning Black Hole Was Seen Killing a Distant Star

Once thought to be the brightest supernova ever recorded, the intense flash in the center of a distant galaxy has more sinister roots: It was a star being blended by a monster black hole. Supermassive black holes are known to occupy the cores of the vast majority of galaxies, eating any material — dust, gas, stars, planets, aliens — their host galaxies can provide. But they rarely eat quietly. As graphically demonstrated in a galaxy some 4 billion light-years away, an unfortunate star strayed too close to the rapidly-spinning supermassive black hole in its galaxy’s center, becoming a stellar smoothie of sorts. Continue reading A Rapidly Spinning Black Hole Was Seen Killing a Distant Star

ALMA ‘Weighs’ Monster Black Hole to Highest Precision

Though we know black holes are kinda big, how do astronomers measure their mass? It’s not as if we can go out there and simply “weigh” them. Fortunately, astronomers have many tricky ways to work out the mass of objects in the universe and black holes are no exception. Continue reading ALMA ‘Weighs’ Monster Black Hole to Highest Precision

Gamma-Ray Burst Detected Near Gravitational Wave Source

On Sept. 14, 2015, our planet experienced a very slight spacetime ripple that was detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). On analyzing the signal, physicists realized these gravitational waves were caused by a black hole merger, some 1.3 billion light-years away. This first gravitational wave event was dubbed “GW150914.” Continue reading Gamma-Ray Burst Detected Near Gravitational Wave Source

‘Bizarre’ Group of Distant Black Holes are Mysteriously Aligned

A highly sensitive radio telescope has seen something peculiar in the depths of our cosmos: A group of supermassive black holes are mysteriously aligned, as if captured in a synchronized dance.

These black holes, which occupy the centers of galaxies in a region of space called ELAIS-N1, appear to have no relation to one another, separated by millions of light-years. But after studying the radio waves generated by the twin jets blasting from the black holes’ poles, astronomers using data from the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India realized that all the jets were pointed in the same direction, like arrows on compasses all pointing “north.” Continue reading ‘Bizarre’ Group of Distant Black Holes are Mysteriously Aligned

Black Hole Jets Hotter Than Expected

New observations of a jet-emitting black hole show astonishing temperatures inside the jets of 10 trillion degrees Kelvin — a toasty 18 trillion degrees Fahrenheit. This new measurement shows that quasars can blow far past the theoretical temperature limit of 100 billion degrees Kelvin (179 billion degrees Fahrenheit), which has scientists puzzled. Continue reading Black Hole Jets Hotter Than Expected

Dark Matter Particle Could be Size of Human Cell

Dark matter could be made of particles that each weigh almost as much as a human cell and are nearly dense enough to become miniature black holes, new research suggests.

While dark matter is thought to make up five-sixths of all matter in the universe, scientists don’t know what this strange stuff is made of. True to its name, dark matter is invisible — it does not emit, reflect or even block light. As a result, dark matter can currently be studied only through its gravitational effects on normal matter. The nature of dark matter is currently one of the greatest mysteries in science. Continue reading Dark Matter Particle Could be Size of Human Cell

Hawking: Gravitational Waves Could Revolutionize Astronomy

In the wake of last week’s historic announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), British physicist and black hole theorist Stephen Hawking was quick to congratulate the US-led collaboration, sharing his excitement for the historic news. Continue reading Hawking: Gravitational Waves Could Revolutionize Astronomy