Black Hole Packs Powerful Punch With Jets Streaming To Incredible Speeds
Astronomers have discovered that high speeds jet from black holes have a lot of power because they actually contain heavy atoms.
"Although they have been observed for decades, we're still not sure what they are made of, or what powers them," said study lead author and European Space Organization (ESO) astronomer Dr María Díaz Trigo.
Researchers have examined a black hole that weighs more than the mass of the sun, with X-rays and radio waves. These observations didn't initially lead to a discovery of any jets despite the black hole being active.
"Intriguingly, we found the lines were not where they should be, but rather were shifted significantly," said radio observations leader Dr. James Miller Jones, from the Curtin University node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR).
Space.com reports that scientists have found evidence of nickel and iron in the jets emitted by the black hole, suggesting that "normal" matter plays a much bigger role in these structures than the "exotic antimatter."
"We've known for a long time that jets contain electrons but haven't got an overall negative charge, so there must be something positively charged in them, too," Miller Jones said.
"Until now, it wasn't clear whether the positive charge came from positrons, the antimatter 'opposite' of electrons, or positively charged atoms," Miller-Jones added. "Since our results found nickel and iron in these jets, we now know ordinary matter must be providing the positive charge."
Researchers measured 4U1630-47, a black hole candidate where they studied the emissions from the ESA's XMM-Newton satellite and analyzed the black hole radio wavelengths using the Australia Telescope Compact Array system.
The observations showed the team the sudden appearance of the jets while the data revealed emission lines in the jets' x-ray spectrum, which corresponds to iron and nickel.
"It led us to conclude the particles were being accelerated to fast speeds in the jets - one directed towards Earth, and the other one in the opposite direction," co-author Simone Migliari, of the University of Barcelona, said in a statement.
The team also calculated an incredible velocity of the jets to be about 66 percent of the speed of light, which is 440 million mph (708 million km/h).