Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Young stars' flickering light reveals remarkable link with matter-eating black holes

14.10.2015

University of Leicester researcher involved in international study into universal physics

An international team of astronomers, including Dr Simon Vaughan from the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, has discovered a previously unknown link between the way young stars grow and the way black holes and other exotic space objects feed from their surroundings.


An accretion disc around a black hole.

Credit: University of Leicester

The study, 'Accretion-induced variability links young stellar objects, white dwarfs, and black holes', which is published in the journal Science Advances, shows how the 'flickering' in the visible brightness of young stellar objects (YSOs) - very young stars in the final stages of formation - is similar to the flickering seen from black holes or white dwarfs as they violently pull matter from their surroundings in a process known as accretion.

The researchers found that relatively cool accretion discs around young stars, whose inner edges can be several times the size of the Sun, show the same behaviour as the hot, violent accretion discs around planet-sized white dwarfs, city-sized black holes and supermassive black holes as large as the entire Solar system, supporting the universality of accretion physics.

The study found a relationship between the size of the central object and the speed of the flickering produced by the disc, suggesting the physics of the accretion must be very similar around these different astronomical objects despite them being completely different in other ways, such as size, age, temperature and gravity.

Dr Simon Vaughan, Reader in Observational Astronomy at the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, explained: "The seemingly random fluctuations we see from the black holes and white dwarfs look remarkably similar to those from the young stellar objects - it is only the tempo that changes."

The new observations were obtained with Kepler/K2 and ULTRACAM, examining accreting white dwarfs and young stellar objects.

Accretion discs are responsible for the growth and evolution of most celestial objects, from young protostars still in the star forming process to ancient supermassive black holes at the centre of galaxies.

NASA's Kepler/K2 telescope can 'listen' to the seemingly random brightness variations produced by accretion discs, revealing how they all sound the same once scaled by their physical size.

Accretion therefore is a universal process operating in the same way across all astrophysical objects.

The study was led by Simone Scaringi, a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany.

The UK universities involved in the project are the University of Leicester, the University of Southampton, the University of Warwick and the University of Sheffield.

###

The initial study received funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

The study, 'Accretion-induced variability links young stellar objects, white dwarfs, and black holes', which is published in the journal Science Advances, is available at: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/1/9/e1500686

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Dr Simon Vaughan on sav2@leicester.ac.uk or call 0116 252 2074.

About the University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world changing research and high quality, inspirational teaching. Leicester is consistently one of the UK's most socially inclusive universities with a long-standing commitment to providing fairer and equal access to higher education. Leicester is a three-time winner of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education and is the only University to win seven consecutive awards from the Times Higher. Leicester is ranked among the top one per-cent of universities in the world by the THE World University Rankings.

About the University of Southampton

Through world-leading research and enterprise activities, the University of Southampton connects with businesses to create real-world solutions to global issues. Through its educational offering, it works with partners around the world to offer relevant, flexible education, which trains students for jobs not even thought of. This connectivity is what sets Southampton apart from the rest; we make connections and change the world. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/

Media Contact

Dr. Simon Vaughan
sav2@leicester.ac.uk
44-011-625-22074

 @UoLNewsCentre

http://www.leicester.ac.uk 

Dr. Simon Vaughan | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL
23.06.2017 | Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

nachricht Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?
23.06.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>