Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Black hole dynamo may be cosmos’ ultimate electricity generator


Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory believe that magnetic field lines extending a few million light years from galaxies into space may be the result of incredibly efficient energy-producing dynamos within black holes that are somewhat analogous to an electric motor. Los Alamos researchers Philipp Kronberg, Quentin Dufton, Stirling Colgate and Hui Li today discussed this finding at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Albuquerque, N.M.

By interpreting radio waves emanating from the gigantic magnetic fields, the researchers were able to create pictures of the fields as they extended from an object believed to be a black hole at the center of a galaxy out into regions of intergalactic space. Because the class of galaxies they studied are isolated from other intergalactic objects and gas - which could warp, distort or compress the fields - the fields extend a distance of up to ten million light years, or about six times 1019 miles.

The energy in these huge magnetic fields is comparable to that released into space as light, X-rays and gamma rays. In other words, the black hole energy is being efficiently converted into magnetic fields. The mechanism is not yet fully understood, but Kronberg and his colleagues believe a black hole accretion disk could be acting similarly to an electric motor.

Colgate and Los Alamos colleagues Vladimir Pariev and John Finn have developed a model to perhaps explain what is happening. They believe that the naturally magnetized accretion disk rotating around a black hole is punctured by clouds of stars in the vicinity of the black hole, like bullet holes in a flywheel. This, in turn, leads nonlinearly to a system similar to an electric generator that gives rise to a rotating, but invisible magnetic helix.

In this way, huge amounts of energy are carried out and away from the center of a galaxy as a set of twisted magnetic field lines that eventually appear via radio waves from luminous cloud formations on opposite sides of the galaxy.

The Los Alamos researchers are calculating methods by which enormous amounts of expelled magnetic energy are converted into heat - manifested in the form of a relativistic gas of cosmic rays that create radio energy that can be detected by radio telescopes such as the Very Large Array. Although the exact mechanism is still a mystery, the Los Alamos researchers believe that a sudden reconnection or fusing of the magnetic field lines creates and accelerates the cosmic rays.

The researchers still don’t understand why this fast magnetic field reconnection occurs. But understanding the mechanism could have important applications here on Earth such as creating a system of magnetic confinement for a fusion energy reactor.

The Los Alamos research is supported by the Laboratory Directed Research and Development Program and the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada also provided support.

Los Alamos recently joined Southwest Universities consortium, which is hoping to build a very low frequency radio telescope called "LOFAR" in New Mexico or West Texas. The new telescope will be an excellent instrument for detecting hidden magnetic energy of the type the Los Alamos research team is interested in studying.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is operated by the University of California for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy and works in partnership with NNSA’s Sandia and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories to support NNSA in its mission.

Los Alamos enhances global security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health and national security concerns.

James Rickman | EurekAlert
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>