Black holes really are holes - objects without a surface - say Drs Christine Done and Marek Gierlinski in a paper accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. Having an "event horizon" rather than a surface is the property that makes something a black hole but, by definition, its impossible ever to see one directly. However, these new results give direct evidence of the existence of such holes in spacetime.
Drs Done and Gierlinski set out to track down the signatures of event horizons by looking for differences between objects thought to be black holes and collapsed bodies of a different kind that are only slightly less extreme - neutron stars. Any material captured by the strong gravity of either type of object will spiral inwards in much the same way, reaching speeds of up to half the speed of light and transforming some of the immense gravitational energy into X-ray emission. The crucial difference is that, in the case of a black hole, material should simply pour into the hole, taking its remaining energy with it and disappearing forever, whereas with a neutron star material smashes onto the surface, releasing whatever energy is left. As a consequence, the X-ray emissions from neutron stars and black holes should look different.
"The idea is simple in theory, and has been known for a long time, but until now it has been hard to put into practice because the X-ray emission even from a single type of object can show a bewildering variety of properties that are not well understood," says Chris Done.
Dr Chris Done | alfa
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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