Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fast-Flying Black Hole Yields Clues To Supernova Origin

Date:
November 19, 2002
Source:
Space Telescope Science Institute
Summary:
A nearby black hole, hurtling through the plane of our galaxy like a cannonball, has given what some astronomers say is their best evidence yet that stellar-mass black holes are made in supernova explosions. The black hole, called GRO J1655-40, is streaking across space at a rate of 250,000 miles per hour. That speed is four times faster than the average velocity of the stars in that galactic neighborhood. The most likely "cannon blast" is the explosive kick of a supernova, one of the universe's most titanic events.

A nearby black hole, hurtling through the plane of our galaxy like a cannonball, has given what some astronomers say is their best evidence yet that stellar-mass black holes are made in supernova explosions. The black hole, called GRO J1655-40, is streaking across space at a rate of 250,000 miles per hour. That speed is four times faster than the average velocity of the stars in that galactic neighborhood. The most likely "cannon blast" is the explosive kick of a supernova, one of the universe's most titanic events.

Even though, by definition, black holes swallow light, the runaway black hole has a companion star, allowing astronomers to track it. NASA Hubble Space Telescope's sharp view allowed astronomers to measure the black hole's motion across the sky in images taken in 1995 and 2001. Combining the Hubble data with separate measurements of its radial motion toward Earth taken from ground-based telescopes yields the true "space velocity" of the black hole, and shows that it is streaking across the plane of our Milky Way in a highly elliptical orbit.

"This is the first black hole found to be moving fast through the plane of our galaxy," says Felix Mirabel of the French Atomic Energy Commission and the Institute for Astronomy and Space Physics of Argentina. "This discovery is exciting because it shows the link of a black hole to a supernova," aside from observing gamma-ray busts from hypernovae (even more powerful stellar explosions), which are believed to make black holes. Mirabel's results appear in the November 19 issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Though the black hole is roughly heading in our direction, it is at a "safe" distance, 6,000 to 9,000 light-years away, in the direction of the constellation Scorpius. Mirabel believes the black hole may have been born in the inner disk of our galaxy, where the highest rate of star formation is taking place.

An aging, evolved star whirls around the black hole, completing one orbit just every 2.6 days. The hole is slowly devouring the companion, which apparently survived the supernova that originally created the black hole. This process makes blowtorch-like jets that stream away from the black hole at a significant fraction of the speed of light. It is the second "microquasar" discovered in our galaxy (meaning that it is a scaled-down model of monster black holes at the cores of extremely active galaxies, called quasars.)

Astronomers have known about stellar-mass black holes (ranging anywhere from 3.5 to approximately 15 solar masses) since the early 1970s. The only conceivable mechanism for making such black holes would be the implosion of the core of a star when it dies. The implosion sends out a shockwave that rips the rest of the star to shreds as a supernova. If the surviving core is greater than 3.5 times our Sun's mass, no forces can stop the collapse, and it will shrink to an infinitely small and dense singularity.

Astronomers have catalogued even faster-moving neutron stars catapulted by a supernova explosion. The black hole is moving relatively slower because it has much more mass and so has more resistance to being accelerated.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Space Telescope Science Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Space Telescope Science Institute. "Fast-Flying Black Hole Yields Clues To Supernova Origin." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021119072936.htm>.
Space Telescope Science Institute. (2002, November 19). Fast-Flying Black Hole Yields Clues To Supernova Origin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021119072936.htm
Space Telescope Science Institute. "Fast-Flying Black Hole Yields Clues To Supernova Origin." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/11/021119072936.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

Raw: NASA Captures Solar Flare

AP (Sep. 1, 2014) NASA reported the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, on August 24th. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the images of the flare, which erupted on the left side of the sun. (Sept. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Space Shuttle Discovery's Legacy, 30 Years Later

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) The space shuttle Discovery launched for the very first time 30 years ago. Here's a look back at its legacy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Experiment Tests Whether Universe Is Actually A Hologram

Newsy (Aug. 27, 2014) Researchers at Fermilab are using a device called "The Holometer" to test whether our universe is actually a 2-D hologram that just seems 3-D. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket Explodes After Liftoff

Newsy (Aug. 23, 2014) The private spaceflight company says it is preparing a thorough investigation into Friday's mishap. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins