Dust and gas caught shooting away from black hole GRS1915.
© R.Spencer et al./Merlin
Surprising black hole weigh-in has astronomers scratching their heads.
Forty thousand light years away, on the other side of the Milky Way, lies object GRS1915+105. It is a giant star and a black hole orbiting one another, blasting out X-rays and ejecting gas and dust at close to the speed of light.
Now measurements of this "extreme and puzzling" object are casting doubt on current theories of how such binary systems form and behave. Astronomers have weighed its black hole, and found it to be the most massive of its kind in our Galaxy1.
A mass of this magnitude challenges the theory that binary black holes arise when exploding stars collapse in on themselves. "It’s almost impossible to form a black hole this massive in a binary system," says astronomer Robert Hynes of the University of Southampton, UK.
The theoretical headaches don’t stop there. The disk of matter surrounding the black hole, flowing in from its companion star, is unusually hot. To explain this, some have suggested that the hole is spinning, allowing matter to approach and heat up before vanishing into it. The death throes of this matter make GRS1915 the brightest X-ray source in the Galaxy.
But a spinning black hole of this mass creates a theoretical logjam with suggested explanations for the pattern of X-ray blasts. "If a spinning hole explains the temperature, then the [X-ray] theories are wrong, or vice versa," says Greiner.
The discovery of similar objects not currently emitting X-rays may help to fill the gaps in our understanding, suggests Alberto Castro-Tirado, of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalucia. Castro-Tiroda was a member of the team that discovered GRS1915. "There are probably other objects like this, but they remain in a state of hibernation", he says.
JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service
Cutting edge research for the industries of tomorrow – DFKI and NICT expand cooperation
21.03.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI
Molecular motor-powered biocomputers
20.03.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
23.03.2017 | Life Sciences
23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences