Menu
Share
Share this story
Close X
 
Switch to Desktop Site

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.

Image

This artist's impression shows a binary system containing a stellar-mass black hole called IGR J17091-3624. The strong gravity of the black hole, on the left, is pulling gas away from a companion star on the right. This gas forms a disk of hot gas around the black hole, and the wind is driven off this disk at 20 million mph.

NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

About these ads

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.

Next

Page:   1   |   2   |   3


Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.

Loading...