Tagged With black holes

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The past few years have been incredible for physics discoveries. Scientists spotted the Higgs boson, a particle they'd been hunting for almost 50 years, in 2012, and gravitational waves, which were theorised 100 years ago, in 2016. This year, they're slated to take a picture of a black hole. So, thought some theorists, why not combine all of the craziest physics ideas into one, a physics turducken? What if we, say, try to spot the dark matter radiating off of black holes through their gravitational waves?

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Black holes may be one of the universe's most bizarre phenomena. They're literally divide-by-zeros in the sky, places where the mathematics of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity falls apart. These dense behemoths have such strong gravitational fields that time stops, and all futures point directly at the centre, and light crossing the boundary, or event horizon, can't escape. But no one's ever taken a picture of a black hole, and scientists want to change that.

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It's no secret that supermassive black holes are heartless beasts: These objects of immense gravity that let nothing escape, not even light, have fascinated astronomers since the early 20th century. While it's believed that so-called supermassive black holes lurk at the centre of most galaxies, including our own, there's still much we don't know about how they formed, or why, except to remind us of our own mortality.

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Black holes are the strong, silent type — an age-old enigma. Hubble estimates that there are roughly 100 million black holes in our galaxy alone, but because their gravitational pull is so intense, light can't escape. So even with the most advanced equipment, "stray" black holes wandering in space are nearly impossible to find.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.