Black hole produces 'cosmic Category 5 hurricane'
A stellar-mass black hole, which is born when an extremely massive star collapses, typically contains about five to 10 times the mass of our sun.
Scientists have measured the fastest winds yet observed from a stellar-mass black hole, shedding light on the behavior of these curious cosmic objects.
The winds, clocked by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, are racing through space at 20 million mph (32 million kph), or about 3 percent the speed of light. That's nearly 10 times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole, researchers said.
"This is like the cosmic equivalent of winds from a Category 5 hurricane," study lead author Ashley King, of the University of Michigan, said in a statement. "We weren't expecting to see such powerful winds from a black hole like this."
A stellar-mass black hole, which is born when an extremely massive star collapses, typically contains about five to 10 times the mass of our sun. The stellar-mass black hole powering this super wind is known as IGR J17091-3624, or IGR J17091 for short. [Photos: Black Holes of the Universe]
IGR J17091 is a binary system in which a sun-like star orbits a black hole. It's found in the central bulge of our Milky Way galaxy, about 28,000 light-years from Earth.