Tag Archives: supermassive black holes

Catching Black Holes on the Fly

NASA’s black-hole-hunter spacecraft, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has “bagged” its first 10 supermassive black holes. The mission, which has a mast the length of a school bus, is the first telescope capable of focusing the highest-energy X-ray light into detailed pictures.

The new black-hole finds are the first of hundreds expected from the mission over the next two years. These gargantuan structures — black holes surrounded by thick disks of gas — lie at the hearts of distant galaxies between 0.3 and 11.4 billion light-years from Earth. (more…)

Read More

Spiral galaxies like Milky Way bigger than thought, says CU-Boulder study

Let’s all fist bump: Spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way appear to be much larger and more massive than previously believed, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study by researchers using the Hubble Space Telescope.

CU-Boulder Professor John Stocke, study leader, said new observations with Hubble’s $70 million Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, or COS, designed by CU-Boulder show that normal spiral galaxies are surrounded by halos of gas that can extend to over 1 million light-years in diameter. The current estimated diameter of the Milky Way, for example, is about 100,000 light-years. One light-year is roughly 6 trillion miles. (more…)

Read More

Space Station to Host New Cosmic Ray Telescope

UChicago’s Angela Olinto leads U.S. collaboration on international project

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has awarded $4.4 million to a collaboration of scientists at five United States universities and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to help build a telescope for deployment on the International Space Station in 2017.

The U.S. collaboration is part of a 13-nation effort to build the 2.5-meter ultraviolet telescope, called the Extreme Universe Space Observatory. UChicago Prof. Angela Olinto leads the U.S. collaboration. The telescope will search for the mysterious source of the most energetic particles in the universe, called ultra high-energy cosmic rays, from the ISS’s Japanese Experiment Module. The source of these cosmic rays has remained one of the great mysteries of science since physicist John Linsley discovered them more than 50 years ago. These cosmic rays consist of protons and other subatomic scraps of matter that fly through the universe at almost light speed. (more…)

Read More

Fastest Wind From Stellar Mass Black Hole Discovered

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— The fastest wind ever discovered blowing off a disk around a stellar-mass black hole has been observed by a team of astronomers that includes a University of Michigan doctoral student.

Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, an orbiting telescope, they clocked the record-breaking super wind at about 20 million mph, or about 3 percent of the speed of light. This is nearly 10 times faster than astronomers had previously observed from a stellar-mass black hole. (more…)

Read More

Yale Discovery of ‘Young’ Supermassive Black Holes Challenges Current Theory

Astronomers at Yale University have discovered what appear to be three fast-growing supermassive black holes in a relatively young, still-forming galaxy.

The discovery raises the possibility that this type of black hole continues to form billions of years after the Big Bang, challenging current theory. Astronomers previously thought all supermassive black holes emerged soon after the birth of the universe 13.7 billion years ago. (more…)

Read More

Pair of Black Holes ‘Weigh In’ At 10 Billion Suns, The Most Massive Yet

AUSTIN, Texas — A team of astronomers including Karl Gebhardt and graduate student Jeremy Murphy of The University of Texas at Austin have discovered the most massive black holes to date — two monsters weighing as much as 10 billion suns and threatening to consume anything, even light, within a region five times the size of our solar system.

The research is published in the Dec. 8 issue of the journal Nature in a paper headlined by  graduate student Nicholas McConnell and professor Chung-Pei Ma of the University of California, Berkeley. (more…)

Read More

X-Ray Telescope Finds New Voracious Black Holes in Early Universe

ANN ARBOR, Mich.— Using the deepest X-ray image ever taken, a University of Michigan astronomer and her colleagues have found the first direct evidence that massive black holes were common in the early universe. This discovery from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory shows that very young black holes grew more aggressively than previously thought, in tandem with the growth of their host galaxies.

By pointing Chandra at a patch of sky for over six weeks, astronomers obtained what is known as the Chandra Deep Field South (CDFS). When combined with very deep optical and infrared images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the new Chandra data allowed astronomers to search for black holes in 200 distant galaxies, from when the universe was between about 800 million and 950 million years old. (more…)

Read More

Measuring the Distant Universe in 3-D

*Berkeley Lab-led BOSS proves it can do the job with quasars*

The biggest 3-D map of the distant universe ever made, using light from 14,000 quasars — supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies many billions of light years away — has been constructed by scientists with the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III).

The map is the first major result from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), SDSS-III’s largest survey, whose principal investigator is David Schlegel of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The huge new map was presented at the April meeting of the American Physical Society in Anaheim, CA, by Anže Slosar of Brookhaven National Laboratory. (more…)

Read More