Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

ESA finds a black-hole flywheel in the Milky Way

26.04.2002


Far away among the stars, in the Ara constellation of the southern sky, a small black hole is whirling space around it. If you tried to stay still in its vicinity, you couldn’t. You’d be dragged around at high speed as if you were riding on a giant flywheel.



In reality, gas falling into the black hole is whirled in that way. It radiates energy, in the form of X-rays, more intensely than it would do if space were still by tapping into the black hole’s internal energy stream.
ESA’s big X-ray detecting satellite, XMM-Newton, was specifically designed to detect this form of energy. With this finding it has chalked up another notable success in its investigations of the black holes - mysterious regions of space where gravity is so strong that light can’t escape. High speeds and intense gravity affect the energy of X-rays emitted from iron atoms very close to a black hole. By detecting the resulting spread of energies, with XMM-Newton, astronomers can diagnose the conditions there.

The weird effect of a spinning black hole on its surroundings is linked to Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity, in which the fabric of space itself becomes fluid. XMM-Newton first discovered such black-hole flywheels in galaxies many millions of light-years away. Now, in findings to be formally reported next month, it sees the same thing much closer to home, in our own Galaxy, the Milky Way.



A US-European team of astronomers made the discovery last September, during an outburst from the vicinity of a black-hole candidate called XTE J1650-500. This object is about 10 times heavier than the Sun. A similar black-hole flywheel in another galaxy, already examined by XMM-Newton, is a million times more massive than that, and 4000 times more distant.

"Now we’ve seen this astonishing behaviour across a great range of distances and masses," comments Matthias Ehle, a member of the team at ESA’s Villafranca satellite station in Spain. "Our hopes that XMM-Newton would vastly improve our understanding of black holes have not been disappointed."

The astronomers describe their observations and their interpretations in a paper to be published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, 10 May 2002. The lead author is Jon Miller of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Monica Talevi | ESA

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather
25.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht A new level of magnetic saturation
25.07.2017 | Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

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: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

25.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Strength of tectonic plates may explain shape of the Tibetan Plateau, study finds

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

The dense vessel network regulates formation of thrombocytes in the bone marrow

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>