Monster Black Hole Burp Startles Scientists - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Monster Black Hole Burp Startles Scientists

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - Astronomers have discovered what appears to be colossal belch from a massive black hole at the heart of a distant galaxy. The outburst was 10 times as bright as the biggest star explosion, scientists say.

The potential super-sized black hole burp find came as astronomers studied the galaxy NGC 660, which is located 44 million light-years away in the constellation Pisces.

"The discovery was entirely serendipitous. Our observations were spread over a few years, and when we looked at them, we found that one galaxy had changed over that time from being placid and quiescent to undergone a hugely energetic outburst at the end," study researcher Robert Minchin of Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico said in a statement.

To determine whether the outburst was from a supernova — the explosive end of a star —  or the galaxy's core, the researchers used the High Sensitivity Array, a global network of telescopes that includes the Very Long Baseline Array, the Arecibo Telescope, the NSF's 100-meter Green Bank Telescope, and the 100-meter Effelsberg Radio Telescope in Germany.

Instead of an expanding ring of material suggesting a supernova event, the researchers found five locations with bright radio emissions clustered around the galaxy's core.

"The most likely explanation is that there are jets coming from the core, but they are precessing, or wobbling, and the hot spots we see are where the jets slammed into the material near the galaxy's nucleus," said Chris Salter, also of the Arecibo Observatory.

Those jets, the researchers said, would mean the outburst likely came from a supermassive black hole at the heart of galaxy NGC 660. As the black hole devours dust and mass, it pulls a whirling disk of matter into its heart that spews jets of particles as it is consumed.

Supermassive black holes are colossal structures at the cores of galaxies that are between millions and billions of times as massive as the sun. They are much larger than stellar-mass black holes, which are created from the deaths of giant stars and can contain the mass of about 10 suns.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    NEW INFORMATION: High Drive brush fire believed to be human caused

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 1:58 PM EDT2014-07-30 17:58:17 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Qualchan Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.>>
    SPOKANE, Wash.- Tuesday evening the Spokane Fire department announced they had a likely cause for the High Drive brush fire: humans. The fire broke out Monday afternoon about 3pm on the west side of Spokane's South Hill between Qualchan Golf Course and High Drive. By 6pm it had grown to 30 acres and moved to within 75 yards of several homes on High Drive.>>
  • PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    PHOTOS JUST IN: Devastation from Carlton Complex; 300 homes burned

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:07 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:07:59 GMT
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
    TWISP, Wash. (AP) - The Okanogan County Sheriff says the Carlton Complex wildfire has many more homes than previously thought. Sheriff Frank Rogers said Friday that the Carlton Complex fire has consumed about 300 homes this month. His office previously placed the number at 150, but he said then he knew it would rise.>>
  • WILDFIRE WATCH 2014: DNR tackling new wildfire near Tonasket

    WILDFIRE WATCH 2014: DNR tackling new wildfire near Tonasket

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 3:03 PM EDT2014-07-30 19:03:06 GMT
    TONASKET, Wash.- The Department of Natural Resources says they are battling a new wildfire northeast of Wauconda and Tonasket. The fire broke out on Tuesday, July 29th and is called the "Torado Mountain" wildfire. DNR crews are attacking this fire from the ground and air.
    >>
    TONASKET, Wash.- The Department of Natural Resources says they are battling a new wildfire northeast of Wauconda and Tonasket. The fire broke out on Tuesday, July 29th and is called the "Torado Mountain" wildfire. DNR crews are attacking this fire from the ground and air.
    >>