Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chandra Reviews Black Hole Musical: Epic But Off-Key

09.10.2006
A gigantic sonic boom generated by a supermassive black hole has been found with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, along with evidence for a cacophony of deep sound.

This discovery was made by using data from the longest X-ray observation ever of M87, a nearby giant elliptical galaxy. M87 is centrally located in the Virgo cluster of galaxies and is known to harbor one of the Universe's most massive black holes.

Scientists detected loops and rings in the hot, X-ray emitting gas that permeates the cluster and surrounds the galaxy. These loops provide evidence for periodic eruptions that occurred near the supermassive black hole, and that generate changes in pressure, or pressure waves, in the cluster gas that manifested themselves as sound.

"We can tell that many deep and different sounds have been rumbling through this cluster for most of the lifetime of the Universe," said William Forman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA).

The outbursts in M87, which happen every few million years, prevent the huge reservoir of gas in the cluster from cooling and forming many new stars. Without these outbursts and resultant heating, M87 would not be the elliptical galaxy it is today.

"If this black hole wasn't making all of this noise, M87 could have been a completely different type of galaxy," said team member Paul Nulsen, also of the CfA, "possibly a huge spiral galaxy about 30 times brighter than the Milky Way."

The outbursts result when material falls toward the black hole. While most of the matter is swallowed, some of it was violently ejected in jets. These jets are launched from regions close to the black hole (neither light nor sound can escape from the black hole itself) and push into the cluster's gas, generating cavities and sound which then propagate outwards.

Chandra's M87 observations also give the strongest evidence to date of a shock wave produced by the supermassive black hole, a clear sign of a powerful explosion. This shock wave appears as a nearly circular ring of high-energy X-rays that is 85,000 light years in diameter and centered on the black hole.

Other remarkable features are seen in M87 for the first time including narrow filaments of X-ray emission -- some over 100,000 light years long -- that may be due hot gas trapped by magnetic fields. Also, a large, previously unknown cavity in the hot gas, created by an outburst from the black hole about 70 million years ago, is seen in the X-ray image.

"We can explain some of what we see, like the shock wave, with textbook physics," said team member Christine Jones, also of the CfA. "However, other details, like the filaments we find, leave us scratching our heads."

Sound has been detected from another black hole in the Perseus cluster, which was calculated to have a note some 57 octaves below middle C. However, the sound in M87 appears to be more discordant and complex. A series of unevenly spaced loops in the hot gas gives evidence for small outbursts from the black hole about every 6 million years. These loops imply the presence of sound waves, not visible in the Chandra image, which are about 56 octaves below middle C. The presence of the large cavity and the sonic boom gives evidence for even deeper notes -- 58 or 59 octaves below middle C -- powered by large outbursts.

These new results on M87 were presented at the High-Energy Astrophysics Division meeting being held in San Francisco. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass.

Megan Watzke | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://chandra.harvard.edu
http://chandra.nasa.gov
http://chandra.harvard.edu/press/06_releases/press_100506.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht SF State astronomer searches for signs of life on Wolf 1061 exoplanet
20.01.2017 | San Francisco State University

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

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: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>