One concept that’s difficult to visualize is the apparent size of objects in the sky. No the actual size of an object, but rather the amount of area an object covers in the sky. Apparent size depends on an object’s actual size and its distance from us. For example, the Sun is about 400 times wider than the Moon, but also about 400 times more distant, so the Sun and Moon have roughly the same apparent size.Continue reading “If you had Radio Telescopes for Eyes, one of the Biggest Things in the sky Would be a jet of Material Blasting out of a Nearby Galaxy”
It all began with the discovery of Sagittarius A*, a persistent radio source located at the Galactic Center of the Milky Way that turned out to be a supermassive black hole (SMBH). This discovery was accompanied by the realization that SMBHs exist at the heart of most galaxies, which account for their energetic nature and the hypervelocity jets extending from their center. Since then, scientists have been trying to get a better look at Sag A* and its surroundings to learn more about the role SMBHs play in the formation and evolution of our galaxy.
This has been the goal of the GRAVITY collaboration, an international team of astronomers and astrophysicists that have been studying the core of the Milky Way for the past thirty years. Using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI), this team obtained the deepest and sharpest images to date of the region around Sag A*. These observations led to the most precise measurement yet of the black hole’s mass and revealed a never-before-seen star that orbits close to it.Continue reading “Best Image Ever Taken of Stars Buzzing Around the Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole”
For literally being black in the truest sense of the word, black holes are surprisingly easy to spot. Astronomers have spent decades at this point purposely searching for them and have found thousands already, with potentially 100 billion existing in our part of the universe. We are still finding new types and configurations of black holes consistently. Now, new research led by Dr. Karina Voggel of the Strasbourg Observatory found a pair of black holes that hold the new records of being both the closest supermassive black hole pair to Earth and the closest together pair ever seen.Continue reading “Galaxy Found With Twin Supermassive Black Holes”
Since the 1970s, scientists have known that within the cores of most massive galaxies in the Universe, there beats the heart of a Supermassive Black Hole (SMBH). The presence of these giant black holes causes these galaxies to be particularly energetic, to the point where their central regions outshine all the stars in their disks combined – aka. Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN). The Milky Way galaxy has its own SMBH, known as Sagitarrius A*, which has a mass of over 4 million Suns.
For decades, scientists have studied these objects in the hopes of learning more about their role in galactic formation and evolution. However, current research has shown that SMBHs may not be restricted to massive galaxies. In fact, a team of astronomers from the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory recently discovered a massive black hole at the heart of a dwarf galaxy that orbits the Milky Way (Leo I). This finding could redefine our understanding of how black holes and galaxies evolve together.Continue reading “A Nearby Dwarf Galaxy has a Surprisingly Massive Black Hole in its Heart”
The first black holes to appear in the universe may have formed from the direct collapse of gas. When they collapsed, they released a flood of radiation, including radio waves. A new study has found that the next generation of massive radio telescopes may be able to detect these bursts, giving precious insights into a critical epoch in the history of the universe.Continue reading “Next Generation Telescopes Could Detect the Direct Collapse of Enormous Black Holes Near the Beginning of Time”
Even the most supermassive of the supermassive black holes aren’t very large, making it extremely difficult to measure their sizes. However, astronomers have recently developed a new technique that can estimate the mass of a black hole based on the movement of hot gas around them – even when the black hole itself it smaller than a single pixel.Continue reading “Astronomers Have a new way to Measure the Mass of Supermassive Black Holes”
Astronomers have been using gravitational waves to detect merging black holes for years now, but may have to rely on pulsars – rapidly spinning neutron stars – to observe the mergers of supermassive black holes.Continue reading “Astronomers Might use Pulsars to First Detect Merging Supermassive Black Holes”
Is there anywhere in the Universe where we can escape from radiation? Certainly not here on Earth. And not in space itself, which is filled with diffuse radiation in the form of gamma rays and neutrinos. Scientists have struggled to explain where all those gamma rays and neutrinos come from. A trio of researchers is proposing a source for all that radiation in a new paper: resting black holes.Continue reading “Even the Quiet Supermassive Black Holes are Blasting out Neutrinos and Gamma Rays”
At the heart of most massive galaxies in our Universe, there are supermassive black holes (SMBH) on the order of millions to billions of times the mass of the Sun. As these behemoths consume gas and dust that’s slowly fed into their maws, they release tremendous amounts of energy. This leads to what is known as an Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) – aka. a quasar – which can sometimes send hypervelocity jets of material for light-years.
Since they were first discovered, astrophysicists have suspected that SMBHs play an important role in the formation and evolution of galaxies. However, as a result, there has also been considerable research dedicated to how these massive objects form and evolve themselves. Recently, a team of astrophysicists conducted a high-powered simulation that showed exactly how SMBHs feed and determined that a galaxy’s arms play a vital role.Continue reading “This is How a Supermassive Black Hole Feeds”
The universe is littered with supermassive black holes. There’s one a mere 30,000 light-years away in the center of the Milky Way. Most galaxies have one, and some of them are more massive than a billion stars. We know that many supermassive black holes formed early in the universe. For example, the quasar TON 618 is powered by a 66 billion solar mass black hole. Since its light travels nearly 11 billion years to reach us, TON 618 was already huge when the universe was just a few billion years old. So how did these black holes grow so massive so quickly?Continue reading “If the First Black Holes Collapsed Directly, Could we Detect Radio Signals From Those Moments?”