Colossal explosion from supermassive black hole at centre of galaxy revealed

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Two million years ago a supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy erupted in an explosion so immensely powerful that it lit up a cloud 200,000 light years away, a team of researchers led by the University of Sydney has revealed.

The finding is an exciting confirmation that black holes can 'flicker', moving from maximum power to switching off over, in cosmic terms, short periods of time.

"For 20 years astronomers have suspected that such a significant outburst occurred, but now we know when this sleeping dragon, four million times the mass of the sun, awoke and breathed fire with 100 million times the power it has today," said Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, lead author of an article on the research to be published in The Astrophysical Journal, from the University's School of Physics.

Ahead of publication, Professor Bland-Hawthorn will unveil the research at the international Galaxy Zoo science conference on 24 September in Sydney.

"It's been long suspected that our Galactic Centre might have sporadically flared up in the past. These observations are a highly suggestive 'smoking gun'," said Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, who was one of the first scientists to suggest that massive black holes power quasars.

Written By: University of Sydney
continue to source article at sydney.edu.au

12 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #2 by Docbrew:

      Science is so much more exciting and breathtaking than anything ever offered by religion. Wow

      Religion is the same bull forever and ever. Change is never a part of the equation. How can an unchanging god change?

    • In reply to #2 by Docbrew:

      Science is so much more exciting and breathtaking than anything ever offered by religion. Wow

      You need to realize that religion IS science that has been handed down to us from ancient civilizations. Science has gotten better along the way.

      • In reply to #6 by Chuck Johnson:

        In reply to #2 by Docbrew:

        Science is so much more exciting and breathtaking than anything ever offered by religion. Wow

        You need to realize that religion IS science that has been handed down to us from ancient civilizations. Science has gotten better along the way.

        I have to totally disagree, what ‘science’ is there in religion? They require and have ZERO evidence. They are unable to test ANY of their assertions. They command from a central assertion based on nothing but the screaming of an elite group of hysterical, sinister virgins touting the ramblings of apparent schizophrenics and other psychotics taking instruction from a voice in their head. ‘Science’ through observation, measurement, experiment and rationality was there long before any of that, and spent a long time viscously attacked by the religious. In Greece they even scrawled “atheist” in graffiti above the doors of those of us unable to believe the hateful idea. In conclusion I think the statement is embarrassingly puerile. It is not these tribal doctrines which can adapt, but the job of the tailless apes they attempt to damage with these reeking trinkets which always select one troupe as the chosen and slaughter all others in their way.

  1. That’s a lot of light for a BLACK HOLE! I don’t understand these things at all. I knew about Hawking Radiation, but this is tremendous. I’ve heard speculations that such output could imply black holes are creative agents, as well as destructive, and I think this supports that.

    • In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

      That’s a lot of light for a BLACK HOLE! I don’t understand these things at all. I knew about Hawking Radiation, but this is tremendous. I’ve heard speculations that such output could imply black holes are creative agents, as well as destructive, and I think this supports that.

      I imagine (with little knowledge in this area) that if a black hole is black because light can’t get out then it must be awfully bright and hot inside. Be interested in what anyone with more knowledge in this area thought about what it would be like in there.

      • In reply to #7 by Reckless Monkey:

        In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

        That’s a lot of light for a BLACK HOLE! I don’t understand these things at all. I knew about Hawking Radiation, but this is tremendous. I’ve heard speculations that such output could imply black holes are creative agents, as well as destructive, and I think thi…

        The light isn’t coming from the black hole itself, but the matter streaming into it. As it spirals in, it get compressed and gets very, very hot and emits radiation. Most of the matter doesn’t even make it in and gets ejected at very high rates of speed.

    • In reply to #5 by This Is Not A Meme:

      That’s a lot of light for a BLACK HOLE! I don’t understand these things at all. I knew about Hawking Radiation, but this is tremendous. I’ve heard speculations that such output could imply black holes are creative agents, as well as destructive, and I think this supports that.

      Read the source article. At the end, the article explains the source of the radiation, and this is not Hawking Radiation. This is the radiation produced when matter falls towards a black hole. The gravitational field of the black hole attracts and accelerates matter, and as the falling matter gains energy, the observed radiation is emitted. All of this takes place as the matter approaches the event horizon. Once the falling matter passes through the event horizon, no more light is emitted. This is because the gravitational pull from the black hole is so powerful, that it attracts and retains any radiation that would try to escape. Escape velocity within the event horizon is greater than the speed of light.

  2. The graphic and comical description of what happens when one is pulled into a black hole (courtesy of Neil deGrasse Tyson ) and stretched like a piece of spaghetti came to mind on seeing this article :)

    How magnificent that explosion must have been !

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