If you were to rank the wildest things in the universe, there are a few obvious contenders: gamma rays, fast radio bursts, and quasars, for example. But no list would be complete without black holes and the black hole’s less-dense cousins, the neutron star. These hyper-compressed things can do some mind-boggling warping to the shape of space itself. So, what happens if one were to eat the other?
You think our galaxy is special? Ha. Our boring pinwheel of gas and dark matter might be a nice hangout for humans. But 750 or so million light years away, there’s an elliptical galaxy, Galaxy 0402+379, whose two supermassive black holes are orbiting each other from a distance of only 24 or so light years. Their combined mass is around 15 billion times that of our Sun.
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 theorized 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?
A flan-obsessed astronaut named Dave and his new partner, a highly intelligent seedless melon, head to Mars in Black Holes, an irreverent (and mildly NSFW) 3D animated short. Its makers, Noodles Studio, hope to develop the story into an adult animated sitcom via a just-launched Kickstarter.
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 polarized 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.
One of the most incredible things about black holes is how much bigger they are than almost anything else out there. Now, a new image taken at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Observatory shows that we’ve been totally wrong about how they manage to grow so large.
Among the (many) mysteries surrounding the gigantic black holes that live at the center of galaxies is just how they managed to get so big, so fast. Finally, scientists have come up with an explanation for their improbably large existence.