Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Capturing black hole spin could further understanding of galaxy growth

Date:
July 29, 2013
Source:
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS)
Summary:
Astronomers have found a new way of measuring the spin in supermassive black holes, which could lead to better understanding about how they drive the growth of galaxies.

Artist's impression of a supermassive black hole at the center surrounded by matter flowing onto the black hole in what is termed an accretion disk. Also shown is an outflowing jet of energetic particles, believed to be powered by the black hole's spin.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Astronomers have found a new way of measuring the spin in supermassive black holes, which could lead to better understanding about how they drive the growth of galaxies. The scientists at Durham University in the UK publish their work in a paper in the Oxford University Press journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Related Articles


The team of astronomers observed a black hole -- with a mass 10 million times that of our Sun -- at the centre of a spiral galaxy 500 million light years from Earth while it was feeding on the surrounding disc of material that fuels its growth and powers its activity.

By viewing optical, ultra-violet and soft x-rays generated by heat as the black hole fed, they were able to measure how far the disc was from the black hole.

This distance depends on black hole spin as a fast spinning black hole pulls the disc in closer to itself, the researchers said. Using the distance between the black hole and the disc, the scientists were able to estimate the spin of the black hole.

The scientists said that understanding spin could lead to greater understanding of galaxy growth over billions of years.

Black holes lie at the centres of almost all galaxies, and can spit out incredibly hot particles at high energies that prevent intergalactic gases from cooling and forming new stars in the outer galaxy. Scientists don't yet understand why the jets are ejected into space, but the Durham experts believe that their power could be linked to the spin of the black hole. This spin is difficult to measure as it only affects the behaviour of material really close to the black hole.

Lead researcher Professor Chris Done, in the Department of Physics, at Durham University, said: "We know the black hole in the centre of each galaxy is linked to the galaxy as a whole, which is strange because black holes are tiny in relation to the size of a galaxy. This would be like something the size of a large boulder (10m), influencing something the size of Earth.

"Understanding this connection between stars in a galaxy and the growth of a black hole, and vice-versa, is the key to understanding how galaxies form throughout cosmic time.

"If a black hole is spinning it drags space and time with it and that drags the accretion disc, containing the black hole's food, closer towards it. This makes the black hole spin faster, a bit like an ice skater doing a pirouette.

"By being able to measure the distance between the black hole and the accretion disc, we believe we can more effectively measure the spin of black holes.

"Because of this, we hope to be able to understand more about the link between black holes and their galaxies."

The Durham scientists were able to measure the spin of the black hole using soft x-ray, optical and ultra-violet images captured by the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton satellite.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. C. Done, C. Jin, M. Middleton, M. Ward. A new way to measure supermassive black hole spin in accretion disc-dominated active galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt1138

Cite This Page:

Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Capturing black hole spin could further understanding of galaxy growth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130729231440.htm>.
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). (2013, July 29). Capturing black hole spin could further understanding of galaxy growth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130729231440.htm
Royal Astronomical Society (RAS). "Capturing black hole spin could further understanding of galaxy growth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130729231440.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) — Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) — A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) — Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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