Located about 28,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius, there is a black hole named H1742-322.
Racing outward at about one-quarter the speed of light, "bullets" of ionized gas are thought to arise from a region located just outside the
black hole's event horizon, the point beyond which nothing can escape.
Using the Very Large Baseline Array and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, an international team of astronomers have successfully
managed to capture a detailed image of the black hole eruption.
The Very Large Baseline Array is a set of 10 radio telescopes that spans 5,000 miles from Mauna Kea in Hawaii to St. Croix in the U.S.
Virgin Islands. It provides astronomers with the sharpest vision of any telescope on Earth or in space.
A black hole in the constellation Scorpius is firing fast cosmic bullets.
"If your eyes were as sharp as the VLBA, you could see a person on the moon," said physicist Gregory Sivakoff of the University of Alberta.
"Like a referee at a sports game, we essentially rewound the footage on the bullets' progress, pinpointing when they
were launched," said Gregory Sivakoff of the University of Alberta in Canada.
Discovered by NASA's HEAO-1 satellite in 1977, the system is composed of a normal star and a black hole of modest but unknown masses.
Their orbit around each other is measured in days, which puts them so close together that the black hole pulls a continuous stream of matter from its stellar
The flowing gas forms a flattened accretion disk millions of miles across, several times wider than our sun, centered on the black hole.
As matter swirls inward, it is compressed and heated to tens of millions of degrees, so hot that it emits X-rays.
Some of the infalling matter becomes re-directed out of the accretion disk as dual, oppositely directed jets.
Most of the time, the jets consist of a steady flow of particles.
Occasionally, though, they morph into more powerful outflows that hurl massive gas blobs at significant fractions of the speed of light.
Click on image to enlarge
Location of H1742-322. Image credit: NASA
Though researchers don't understand exactly how the process works, this disk constantly emits energetic jets of plasma that spew out in opposite directions.
Occasionally these jets turn off, followed shortly by an enormous bullet-like burst.
Image taken by astronomers observing the black hole system H1743-322.Image credit: NRAO and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Sivakoff and his team wanted to find the sequence of events that leads up to this outburst and trained their instruments on H1743 in the summer of 2009.
Just prior to the cosmic gunshot, they detected a lump of material - likely an ionized blob of gas - spiraling its way down toward the black hole's center. Known as a quasi-periodic oscillation, or QPO, the blob disappeared shortly before the steady jets turned off.
Several days later, the first bullet went off, followed quickly by a second ejection the next day. "The simultaneity is clearly an important piece of evidence
tying the QPO and the jet," said Sivakoff, though he added that all the details are not yet completely known.
"This research provides new clues about the conditions needed to initiate a jet and can guide our thinking about how it happens," said Chris Done, an
astrophysicist at the University of Durham, England, who was not involved in the study.
Black Hole Launches 'Bullets' of Gas
X-ray and radio data let astronomers pinpoint when the black hole system H1743-322 ejected powerful gas 'bullets' during its mid-2009 outburst.
In this animation, an X-ray hot spot in the gas around the black hole produced signals of rising frequency as the spot moved closer to the black hole.
When the bullets were ejected June 3, the hot spot vanished.
A super-sized version of the same phenomenon occurs at the center of an active galaxy, where a black hole weighing millions to billions of
times our sun's mass can drive outflows extending millions of light-years.
"Black hole jets in binary star systems act as fast-forwarded versions of their galactic-scale cousins, giving us insights into how they
work and how their enormous energy output can influence the growth of galaxies and clusters of galaxies," said lead researcher
James Miller-Jones at the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
Fastest Wind Ever Coming From A Disk Around Stellar-Mass Black Hole Discovered
This record breaking wind is moving about 20 million miles per hour - about 3% the speed of light and may be carrying away much more material
than the black hole is actually capturing.
This is nearly ten times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole, and matches some of the fastest winds g
enerated by supermassive black holes, objects millions or billions of times more massive.
Super Massive Black Holes Lurking In The Hearts Of Galaxies
Supermassive black holes are the most destructive force in the Universe, with a compact energy source of enormous strength
and a mass of an order of magnitude between 105 and 1010 (hundreds of thousands and tens of billions) of solar masses!
They are so bizarre that until recently scientists did not believe they existed.
Flat Pancake-Shaped Galaxy Harbors Three Black Holes
Universe is still a big mystery. The bright galaxy NGC 3621 is the so-called "flat galaxy" which appears to be just a classical spiral.
But it is rather unusual astronomical object
Bulgeless and therefore described as a pure-disc galaxy, NGC 3621 lies far beyond the local group of galaxies, some 22 million
light-years away in the constellation of Hydra (The Sea Snake)...
"Ghost Object" Appears After Black Hole Eruption
A cosmic "ghost" lurking around a distant supermassive black hole provides astronomers with valuable information about the early Universe.
"We'd seen this fuzzy object a few years ago, but didn't realize until now that we were seeing a ghost", said Andy Fabian of the Cambridge
University in the United Kingdom.
Mysterious X-Rays From Jupiter Near The Poles
Although there had been prior detections of X-rays from Jupiter with other X-ray telescopes, no one expected that the sources of the
X-rays would be located so near the poles.
The X-rays are thought to be produced by energetic oxygen and sulfur ions that are trapped in Jupiter's magnetic field and crash into its atmosphere.
Never Ending Winter In Our Solar System
There's no lack of ice in our solar system.
Frozen water can be found almost everywhere: the poles of Mercury, Earth, the moon and Mars; the rings and icy satellites of the outer planets;
and in comets that come whizzing past.
Winter in our Solar system is not as we know it on our planet.
10 Greatest Astronomical Discoveries
Our Universe is a beautiful and very large place. We have so far only observed a small portion of all marvels our Universe has to offer.
With help of technological breakthroughs, our knowledge will expand and we will soon make new exciting, scientific discoveries.
Here a list of 10 major discoveries that changed how we view the Universe.
Radio Emission From Ultracool Dwarf Detected By Arecibo Telescope
The Arecibo Telescope in Puerto Rico has discovered sporadic bursts of polarized radio emission from the T6.5 brown J1047+21.
Because Arecibo is a single, fixed-dish telescope, it has a restricted practical sensitivity to weak, quiescent emission from radio sources...
Invader From Another Galaxy
This alien intruder from another galaxy is in many ways different from other exoplanets observed by astronomers.
Located about 2000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Fornax (the Furnace), the Jupiter-like planet orbits a dying star of
extragalactic origin and risks to be engulfed by it.
Power To See Most Distant Objects In The Universe
The 3C294, is one of the most distant galaxies recorded by Chandra, the most sophisticated X-ray observatory ever built.
The cluster 3C294 is even 40 percent farther (!) than the next most distant x-ray galaxy cluster.
Chandra focus on X-rays from high-energy regions of the Universe and see the invisible.
It is so sensitive that it can capture images of particles as they disappear into a black hole deep in outer space.