Secrets of Mysterious Black Hole Jets Revealed
Jets have power to spew iron and nickel, study finds
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2013 12:54 PM CST
This undated handout artist rendering shows a powerful pair of jets from a stellar black hole.   (AP Photo/European Southern Observatory/L.Calcada)

(Newser) – For years, astronomers have wondered what exactly black holes spew into our universe—and now they know. Iron and nickel have been found shooting from the relativistic jets of a black hole several times larger than our sun, but the finding is more surprising than it may seem. It shows the jets are much more powerful than previously believed since they have the power to move heavy atoms; it also identifies the mysterious contents that left scientists stumped as to why the jet's electrons didn't have a negative charge overall. "We now know that ordinary matter must be providing the positive charge," the study's co-author told the Los Angeles Times.

The Nature study, which looked at radio waves and X-rays emitted from black hole 4U 1630-47, also offers clues to other mysteries surrounding black holes, like what causes the jets in the first place. The study points to a disk of matter surrounding the black hole, as opposed to the black hole's spin, and "we are planning further observations to try and confirm this," the co-author said. Another interesting find? Those jets are moving more than a little bit faster than the average hot tub: They travel at 123,000 miles per second, or 66% of the speed of light. Astronomy notes that while the black hole in question is rather small, the research would apply to larger ones, too.

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Showing 3 of 21 comments
vlad
Nov 18, 2013 8:51 AM CST
the universe is a hell of a lot stranger than we give it credit for . to be perfectly honest if we humans still exist a million years from now and have`nt offed ourselves through some act of war , or stupid mistake in a lab , we still will not fully understand it !
SonofaCV15
Nov 16, 2013 10:59 AM CST
Wow! Maybe they should also check the Obamacare website and see if it is spewing out anything while they are looking in to this.
Basil R Croughton
Nov 16, 2013 8:58 AM CST
@disqus_qycmKrnZRZ:disqus - Nothing can escape from the event horizon surrounding the black hole, because it would have to be traveling at a velocity faster than light, which relativity says is an absolute limit. These jets emerge from space in proximity to the black hole (maybe drawn in part from a nearby companion star?). They are "only" traveling at a velocity of 2/3 the speed of light.