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
The Hubble Space Telescope is an expert at imaging distant galaxies, bringing mysterious galactic features into the light. In the case of one particular elliptical galaxy, around 150 million light-years distant, Hubble has revealed a conundrum and a possible mechanism behind why some galaxies look so old. Continue reading Hubble Spies a Strange Old Dusty Galaxy
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
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
A huge, windy swirl of gas — usually found in the largest, most active galaxies — commands the center of a spiral similar to the Milky Way and may disrupt the galaxy’s star formation process, new research shows.
The galaxy, spotted by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton satellite telescope observatory, is, like the Milky Way, a spiral with a supermassive black hole at the center. But its center’s ability to produce new stars is compromised due to a fierce wind coming from that black hole as it swallows up its surroundings, ESA officials said in a statement. The gases and winds swirl around the black hole at about 10 percent of the speed of light, the statement said. Continue reading Powerful Black-Hole Wind Ruffles Spiral Galaxy
For the first time, astronomers have seen dim flickers of visible light from near a black hole, researchers with an international science team said. In fact, the light could be visible to anyone with a moderate-size telescope. Continue reading Astronomers Detect Visible Light From Black Hole for First Time