Astronomers Spot Black Hole Spinning Near the Speed of Light

Astronomers Spot Black Hole Spinning Near the Speed of Light

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NASA's NuStar and ESA's XMM-Newton have studied the spin rate of a supermassive black hole.

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have teamed up to, for the first time, measure the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our own sun. In their findings the scientists analyzed data from several satellites to put Einstein's theory of general relativity to a real test - which says gravity can bend space-time and light. The black hole is about 2 million miles across, and according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics report has a surface spinning at nearly the speed of light. "We can trace matter as it swirls into a black hole using X-rays emitted from regions very close to the black hole," explans NuSTAR principal investigator Fiona Harrison. "The radiation we see is warped and distorted by the motions of particles and the black hole's incredibly strong gravity. Learning about the spin rates of supermassive black holes is intended to help scientists understand the origins of the universe.

"These monsters, with masses from millions to billions of times that of the sun, are formed as small seeds in the early universe and grow by swallowing stars and gas in their host galaxies, merging with other giant black holes when galaxies collide, or both," said study lead author Guido Risaliti. Supermassive black holes are surrounded by accretion disks of matter being pulled inward, which emit X-rays due to the high rate of friction. In theory, the faster the hole spins, the closer the accretion disk should be to the hole. The closer the disk, the more gravity will warp X-ray light from the disk. ESA's XMM-Newton proved that light was being warped, and NASA's NuSTAR higher energy X-ray showed that gravity must be causing the warping.

"The black hole's spin is a memory, a record, of the past history of the galaxy as a whole," said Risaliti.

Source & Image: NASA JPL

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There has been a lot of black hole related breakthroughs lately, and it just makes me think that scientists recently discovered there is no possible way of observing black holes, and have just been making stuff up since then.

A black hole with THAT much spin? Must be the EA marketing department. Or Gearbox's

HOLLY SHIT now that what I call impressive-I wonder what's on the other side?
Only one way to find out!
Who here wants to go on a one way ticket into that bad boy ^_^.

DVS BSTrD:
A black hole with THAT much spin? Must be the EA marketing department. Or Gearbox's

I see what you did there ;)

Though I prefer EA....

rollerfox88:
There has been a lot of black hole related breakthroughs lately, and it just makes me think that scientists recently discovered there is no possible way of observing black holes, and have just been making stuff up since then.

Shows why you won't be a scientist anytime soon. Who said you have to observe black holes directly to know something about them?You learn from school how scientists actually "observe" black holes, at least from the schools here.

T3hSource:

rollerfox88:
There has been a lot of black hole related breakthroughs lately, and it just makes me think that scientists recently discovered there is no possible way of observing black holes, and have just been making stuff up since then.

Shows why you won't be a scientist anytime soon, who said you have to observe black holes directly to know something about them?

Shows you wont be a proof reader anytime soon, who said anything about observing them directly? It definitely wasnt the guy with the science degree and four years in a related field...(me).

rollerfox88:
snip

Well, things can be interpreted and understood wrongly. Sorry for that.
Considering your post count and join date on just on this site, I'd assume you'd have a thicker skin for the internet's "fixed that for you", but then again I can understand how arguing to starngers in your field of science can be frustrating.

JonB:

"The black hole's spin...a record"

I wonder what it would sound like if we put a needle on it.

Wait... did Rollerfox actually just leave? Whoa. Heavy, man.

OT: Black holes scare the ever loving hell out of me. Even just 'normal' ones. A black hole that size, spinning that fast? ERMAHGERD!

I'm still trying to wrap my mind around "the surface" of the black hole. It would be the event horizon, but that's not really a "surface" and I can't see how it could be spinning since it's really just a point at which light can't escape. So does that mean that the event horizon is the surface, or that past the event horizon is the singularity which is spinning at near-maximum speed.

And then I start to think of why a black hole would have to obey the speed of light limit. My brain . . .

ShadowKatt:

JonB:

"The black hole's spin...a record"

I wonder what it would sound like if we put a needle on it.

I believe it'll sound like this.

Ldude893:

ShadowKatt:

JonB:

"The black hole's spin...a record"

I wonder what it would sound like if we put a needle on it.

I believe it'll sound like this.

either this or like "supermassive black hole" by "muse" (i'm kinda lazy, but i'm sure someone will find the appropriate clip)

edit: found it
Muse - Supermassive Black Hole

This os why black holes are so bloody scary.

Makes me wonder the chances of how Earth can even survive in a universal mine field.

How did it get it spinning that fast?

You need more and more energy to move something the closer you get to light speed.

Where did the energy to spin a BLACK HOLE next to light speed come from? That thing has a mass beyond our ability to even comprehend how heavy the thing is.

Not G. Ivingname:
How did it get it spinning that fast?

You need more and more energy to move something the closer you get to light speed.

Where did the energy to spin a BLACK HOLE next to light speed come from? That thing has a mass beyond our ability to even comprehend how heavy the thing is.

Maybe you've heard of gamma ray bursts (GRB's): flashes of energy detectable from billions of lightyears away, generated by the accretion disc 'feeding' a black hole. Basically the most powerful cosmic process known. The accretion disc around a black hole can generate terrifyingly massive amounts of energy. Might account for a black hole's spin.

And of course, with it being space and nothing around to slow it down, energy starts piling up. ^^

From what I know there are theories that a black hole might actually spin faster than the speed of light, as spacetime itself starts moving with the gravity of the black hole.

Black holes always are awesome and awe-inspiring.

So, whne can be isntall the black hole 0,9 beta version into our PCs, if it ican store the memory of a galaxy it may even give it a try with my porn collection.

Not G. Ivingname:
How did it get it spinning that fast?

You need more and more energy to move something the closer you get to light speed.

Where did the energy to spin a BLACK HOLE next to light speed come from? That thing has a mass beyond our ability to even comprehend how heavy the thing is.

there is no driction in space, and black hole is its own gravity center, so it could be spinnig from inertial without any extra matter. however one must also know that light, xrays and pretty much all the gases the black hole has energy. the energy does not dissapear into some magical land, it gets trasnfered to the black hole. its possible it gets moved into spinning the hole before it leaves though the geyzers (sorry forgot the name of those things where black holes throw off energy).

Oh universe, you so crazy.

Anybody else think that if we applied a drill to this situation, we would rip the "fabric" of the space-time continuum?

A cookie if you get the (vague and possibly incorrect) reference.

I agree with Rollerfox...but yeah giant astro-beyblades are cool too.

Sporky111:
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around "the surface" of the black hole. It would be the event horizon, but that's not really a "surface" and I can't see how it could be spinning since it's really just a point at which light can't escape. So does that mean that the event horizon is the surface, or that past the event horizon is the singularity which is spinning at near-maximum speed.

And then I start to think of why a black hole would have to obey the speed of light limit. My brain . . .

Yeah, I noticed that too. I'm going to go with it being badly worded, or perhaps the writer rephrasing something they read somewhere else without understanding it.

Oh, wait, they say it's the event horizon that is 2 million miles across and spinning.

...

Now that I think of it, a black hole seems a likely thing to spin close to C. It has a lot of mass, but no dimensions as we'd think of them, due to being a singularity. The spin thus doesn't involve any distance. Yeah, the event horizon is a certain distance away, but that's not a tangible thing. I could spin around in my room and an imaginary point some fixed distance away where I was facing would "move" faster than light.

*insert "Yo mama so fat" joke here.

thaluikhain:

Sporky111:
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around "the surface" of the black hole. It would be the event horizon but that's not really a "surface" and I can't see how it could be spinning since it's really just a point at which light can't escape. So does that mean that the event horizon is the surface, or that past the event horizon is the singularity which is spinning at near-maximum speed.

And then I start to think of why a black hole would have to obey the speed of light limit. My brain . . .

Yeah, I noticed that too. I'm going to go with it being badly worded, or perhaps the writer rephrasing something they read somewhere else without understanding it.

Oh, wait, they say it's the event horizon that is 2 million miles across and spinning.

...

Now that I think of it, a black hole seems a likely thing to spin close to C. It has a lot of mass, but no dimensions as we'd think of them, due to being a singularity. The spin thus doesn't involve any distance. Yeah, the event horizon is a certain distance away, but that's not a tangible thing. I could spin around in my room and an imaginary point some fixed distance away where I was facing would "move" faster than light.

From what I remember learning about this stuff, black holes do have dimensions, but they're infinitesimal on the scale of the universe. But the more mass a black hole has, the bigger it is. Don't take my word for it, but I've heard that a black hole with the mass of the sun would have a radius of about 1cm. But the masses of these things are so huge that it still takes a lot of energy to make them spin.

Actually, wouldn't it be harder to get something that small to rotate at the speed of light than something bigger? Think about it, since you can't move faster than light, then the outermost layer would move closest to the speed of light, but the closer you get to the center, the slower you need to move to keep up with the outer layer. But since black holes are so small, the decrease in speed wouldn't be as big as for something millions of times bigger, so the average speed of the whole thing is higher and you'll need more energy to get the thing to rotate at the speed of light.

DasDestroyer:

thaluikhain:

Sporky111:
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around "the surface" of the black hole. It would be the event horizon but that's not really a "surface" and I can't see how it could be spinning since it's really just a point at which light can't escape. So does that mean that the event horizon is the surface, or that past the event horizon is the singularity which is spinning at near-maximum speed.

And then I start to think of why a black hole would have to obey the speed of light limit. My brain . . .

Yeah, I noticed that too. I'm going to go with it being badly worded, or perhaps the writer rephrasing something they read somewhere else without understanding it.

Oh, wait, they say it's the event horizon that is 2 million miles across and spinning.

...

Now that I think of it, a black hole seems a likely thing to spin close to C. It has a lot of mass, but no dimensions as we'd think of them, due to being a singularity. The spin thus doesn't involve any distance. Yeah, the event horizon is a certain distance away, but that's not a tangible thing. I could spin around in my room and an imaginary point some fixed distance away where I was facing would "move" faster than light.

From what I remember learning about this stuff, black holes do have dimensions, but they're infinitesimal on the scale of the universe. But the more mass a black hole has, the bigger it is. Don't take my word for it, but I've heard that a black hole with the mass of the sun would have a radius of about 1cm. But the masses of these things are so huge that it still takes a lot of energy to make them spin.

Actually, wouldn't it be harder to get something that small to rotate at the speed of light than something bigger? Think about it, since you can't move faster than light, then the outermost layer would move closest to the speed of light, but the closer you get to the center, the slower you need to move to keep up with the outer layer. But since black holes are so small, the decrease in speed wouldn't be as big as for something millions of times bigger, so the average speed of the whole thing is higher and you'll need more energy to get the thing to rotate at the speed of light.

It's basically conservation of angular momentum

From Wikipedia

The conservation of angular momentum explains the angular acceleration of an ice skater as she brings her arms and legs close to the vertical axis of rotation. By bringing part of mass of her body closer to the axis she decreases her body's moment of inertia. Because angular momentum is constant in the absence of external torques, the angular velocity (rotational speed) of the skater has to increase.
The same phenomenon results in extremely fast spin of compact stars (like white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes) when they are formed out of much larger and slower rotating stars (indeed, decreasing the size of object 104 times results in increase of its angular velocity by the factor 108).

rollerfox88:
There has been a lot of black hole related breakthroughs lately, and it just makes me think that scientists recently discovered there is no possible way of observing black holes, and have just been making stuff up since then.

And the LHC is for making cotton candy. Riiight...

OT: Let's see here... Black holes suck in light at a rate of...immeasurable. They have been proven to - aside from the fact that the entire universe is in constant motion as whole galaxies are in flux - be able to move around. Most things in the universe DO tend to rotate.

I believe it.

RADIALTHRONE1:
Anybody else think that if we applied a drill to this situation, we would rip the "fabric" of the space-time continuum?

A cookie if you get the (vague and possibly incorrect) reference.

Mode II, go!

image
GYUUUIIIIIIINNNNNNN!

Teto's drills will pierce the heavens!

....what?

....wrong drill?

evilneko:

Not what i was getting at, but close.

 

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