Feeds

Black holes actually green: official

Fuel-efficient galactic monsters

High performance access to file storage

Black holeScientists studying the energy output of black holes have discovered to their surprise that "the conversion of energy by matter falling toward a black hole is much more efficient than nuclear or fossil fuels" - so much so that "if a car was as fuel-efficient as these black holes, it could theoretically travel more than a billion miles on a gallon of gas".

That's according to boffins at the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, who studied the inner regions of nine elliptical galaxies with a view to determining the rate at which gas is being sucked towards said galaxies' supermassive black holes.

As the gas falls towards the event horizon, it releases energy in the form of high-energy particles which stream away in jets from a "magnetised gaseous disk" encompassing the black hole's core (see pic). These jets then form enormous "bubbles" far out into space.

The question for the Chandra team was how much energy would be required for the jets to produce these bubbles, in some cases thousands of light years across? The answer, according to Steve Allen of Stanford University, is a trillion trillion trillion watts.

The upshot of this fuel-efficient conversion rate, Reuters notes, is that big black holes theoretically have enough gas to keep firing for hundreds of billions of years, way beyond the current estimated age of the universe - a modest 13.7bn years.

A knock-on effect of the black holes' emissions, says Kim Weaver of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, is that the outpouring of energy heats up the gas surrounding the galactic centre, thereby preventing stars from forming from cooling gaseous matter.

Weaver said: "This is one way to keep the stars from forming and letting the galaxies grow bigger." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.