Feeds

Dark HEAVY METAL star fires up jets, vomits hot ROCK into space

Black hole spews nickel and iron, intrigues sky-watching boffins

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

A black hole has been spotted spurting out streams of iron and nickel, seeding the universe with heavy atoms that are part of the building blocks of planets, asteroids and stars.

Black hole

First I pull it in, then I spit it out ... Artist's impression of the hole in action

Typically, black holes put out jets of charged particles, thousands of light-years long, which disperse into surrounding galaxies. However, this is the first time a typical black hole has been spotted pumping out heavier atoms, such as nickel and iron, at two thirds the speed of light. Those two elements in particular make up much of the composition of one of the main classes of asteroids, as well as being abundant in rocky planets like Earth.

The European Space Agency's XMM-Newton space telescope snapped the black hole, dubbed 4U1630-47, spewing out jets of the material, and the findings are backed up by the Compact Array radio telescope in eastern Australia run by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

"Heavy atoms have been seen in jets from one other system, SS433, but that's a very unusual system, an oddball, whereas this system is quite typical, much more likely to represent black holes in general," CSIRO's Dr Tasso Tzioumis, a member of the research team.

The black hole is a dainty little thing, only a few times the mass of our Sun, but of a common type across the universe. Scientists are now looking at how these jet streams could affect galactic system development.

"Jets from supermassive black holes help determine a galaxy's fate - how it evolves," said Tzioumis. "So we want to understand better the impact jets have on their environment." ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.