Tagged With black holes


Sometimes, the best telescopes on Earth need a little help making their observations more meaningful. NASA announced yesterday that it had decided to fund the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE, pronounced ix-pee) mission, a polarised X-ray telescope, to help the bigger telescopes explore some of space's strangest phenomena — including the dead remains of exploded stars and galactic lighthouses called pulsars.


Millions of years ago, B3 1715+425 was just an ordinary supermassive black hole. It had a comfortable life, of devouring stars and belching deadly X-rays, at the centre of its distant galaxy. Now, starless and alone, it's screaming through space at 3219km per second — and it may never stop.


Using the Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have found evidence of a "wandering" black hole on the outskirts of a distant galaxy. It's too far away to cause us any trouble, but the discovery of this homeless ball of gravitational despair affirms a long standing theory about the existence of such objects.


Black holes: Crushing vortexes of darkness that promise to shred each and every atom in your body to oblivion, right? Maybe not. New theoretical work by researchers at the Institute of Corpuscular Physics hints that it might be possible to escape the journey into a black hole with all of your cells intact. The bad news is, you'd probably still die... and you'd wind up in another universe.


The Earth isn't particularly close to any black holes — the closest candidate, A0620-00, is around 2800 light years away — so good on us for picking a nice cosmic neighbourhood to live in. But besides the whole "nothing escapes from them" thing and the hugely destructive supernova preceding their birth, black holes are bad news. They could end life as we know it, even from far away.


Two months ago, astronomers picked up and then pinpointed the location of a weird burst of radio waves from space, prompting heated debate about the possible source of the signals. Now, new data has finally revealed that source — and it's not such a big mystery after all. Move along, nothing to see here: Just a star-gobbling supermassive black hole burping out some excess radio waves.


When the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves, it was the culmination of 50 long years of hard work and perseverance in the face of scepticism. In her new book, Black Hole Blues, and Other Songs from Outer Space, astrophysicist Janna Levin gives us a ringside seat to how it all went down. Gizmodo sat down with Levin to learn more.