Here’s a New Way to Explode: Hybrid Gamma-Ray Burst

Hybrid Gamma Ray Burst. GRB060614. Image credit: NASAJust when you thought you’d figured out all the ways to blow up, nature reveals a new way. This latest class of explosion is called a hybrid gamma-ray burst, and it was discovered by NASA’s Swift satellite. As with most gamma-ray bursts, this explosion probably indicates the birth of a new black hole in the Universe; however, the explosion itself was different from what astronomers have seen before.
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Large and Small, Black Holes Feed the Same Way

Whether you’re dealing with a stellar mass black hole, or a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy, it appears they consume matter in much the same way. It’s all just an issue of scale. Researchers have studied the accretion disks around both stellar and supermassive black holes, and found they seem to emit the same pattern of X-rays. Because of their size, the supermassive variety consume matter over long periods. By studying the smaller variety, researchers can model what will happen on larger scales.
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Black Hole Erupts on Camera

ESA’s Integral space observatory has spotted a blast of gamma rays from a suspected black hole in the Milky Way. the outburst occurred on September 17, 2006, and gradually built in brightness over the course of a few days before declining again. It’s this rise and fall of brightness, called a light curve, that allowed astronomers identify the source as a black hole. It’s likely that a disk of gas and material orbiting the black hole became unstable, and a portion of it collapsed, creating the outburst.
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Black Hole Spins Nearly 1000 Times a Second

Black holes bend our understanding of the Universe and laws of physics. But astronomers have discovered a black hole spinning so quickly, it breaks all the speed laws for rotation. The stellar mass black hole in question is known as GRS1915+105, and it’s spinning more than 950 times every second. As the black hole spins, it drags the surrounding space around with it, and gives astronomers an opportunity to study some of Einstein’s predictions about relativity.
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Super-Supermassive Black Hole

The Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the National Radio Astronomical Observatory teamed up to produce this composite image of galaxy cluster MS0735.6+7421, located about 2.5 billion light-years from Earth. The cluster contains dozens of galaxies held together by gravity. A truly supermassive black hole lurks at the heart of this cluster, containing more than a billion solar masses. The red areas are twin jets of material streaming away from the black hole.
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