Feeds

Black holes actually green: official

Fuel-efficient galactic monsters

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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." ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?