Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Physicist discovers black holes in globular star clusters, upsetting 40 years of theory: Could there be ripples in spacetime?

Date:
November 4, 2013
Source:
Texas Tech University
Summary:
An astrophysicist was part of a team of researchers that discovered the first examples of black holes in globular star clusters in our own galaxy, upsetting 40 years of theories against their possible existence.

The black hole above was discovered in the M62 star cluster, which is 23,000 light years away from Earth. These star clusters contain some of the oldest stars in the galaxy.
Credit: Image courtesy of Texas Tech University

A Texas Tech University astrophysicist was part of a team of researchers that discovered the first examples of black holes in globular star clusters in our own galaxy, upsetting 40 years of theories against their possible existence.

Related Articles


Tom Maccarone, an associate professor of physics, said the team detected the existence of the black holes by using an array of radio telescopes to pick up a certain type of radio frequency released by these black holes as they eat a star next to them.

The results were published in The Astrophysical Journal and featured in the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s ENews news bulletin.

Globular star clusters are large groupings of stars thought to contain some of the oldest stars in the universe. In the same distance from our sun to the nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri, its nearest neighbor, these globular star clusters could have a million to tens of millions of stars, Maccarone said.

“The stars can collide with one another in that environment,” Maccarone said. “The old theory believed that the interaction of stars was thought to kick out any black holes that formed. They would interact with each other and slingshot black holes out of the cluster until they were all gone.”

He compared it to water vapor coming off a hot cup of coffee. As some water molecules get hot enough to turn to steam, they are let go from their environment to float off into the atmosphere even though the coffee may be below the boiling temperature of water.

The old theory stated that the stars would kick the black holes out in the same fashion – occasionally, some black holes would have enough energy to escape the cluster, and gradually, they all would leave.

While the theory may still be displaced, Maccarone said it might still be somewhat true. Black holes might still get kicked out of globular star clusters, but at a much slower rate than initially believed.

In 2007, Maccarone made the first discovery of a black hole in a globular star cluster in the neighboring NGC4472 galaxy. But rather than finding it by using radio waves, Maccarone found it by seeing an X-ray emission from the gas falling into the black hole and heating up to a few million degrees.

“Six years ago I had made the first discoveries in other galaxies,” he said. “It’s surprisingly easier to find them in other galaxies than in our own, even though they’re a thousand times as far away as these in our own galaxy are.”

This year, he and his team discovered two examples of globular star clusters in our own galaxy which host black holes by finding radio emission by using the Very Large Array of radio telescopes in New Mexico.

“As the black hole eats a star, these jets of material are coming out,” he said. “Most of the material falls into the black hole, but some is thrown outwards in a jet. To see that jet of material, we look for a radio emission. We found a few radio emissions coming from this globular star cluster that we couldn’t explain any other way.”

Maccarone said seeing black holes in globular clusters may provide a way for them to get close enough to one another to merge into bigger black holes.

“These mergers may produce the ‘ripples in spacetime’ we call gravitational waves,” he said. “Trying to detect gravitational waves is one of the biggest problems in physics right now, because it would be the strongest test of whether Einstein’s theory of relativity is correct.”

Other researchers included Laura Chomiuk and Jay Strader at Michigan State University; James Miller-Jones at Perth Curtin University in Perth, Australia; Craig Heinke at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Eva Noyola at the University of Texas at Austin; Anil Seth at University of Utah; and Scott Ransom at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas Tech University. The original article was written by John Davis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Laura Chomiuk, Jay Strader, Thomas J. Maccarone, James C. A. Miller-Jones, Craig Heinke, Eva Noyola, Anil C. Seth, Scott Ransom. A Radio-Selected Black Hole X-ray Binary Candidate in the Milky Way Globular Cluster M62. The Astrophysical Journal, 2013 (in press) [link]

Cite This Page:

Texas Tech University. "Physicist discovers black holes in globular star clusters, upsetting 40 years of theory: Could there be ripples in spacetime?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104152604.htm>.
Texas Tech University. (2013, November 4). Physicist discovers black holes in globular star clusters, upsetting 40 years of theory: Could there be ripples in spacetime?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104152604.htm
Texas Tech University. "Physicist discovers black holes in globular star clusters, upsetting 40 years of theory: Could there be ripples in spacetime?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131104152604.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

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — China launched an experimental spacecraft Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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