Home > Astronomy, Black Holes, General Astronomy, Observatories & Facilities > VLBA, RXTE Team Up to Pinpoint Black Hole’s Outburst

VLBA, RXTE Team Up to Pinpoint Black Hole’s Outburst


Astronomers have gained an important clue about a ubiquitous cosmic process by pinpointing the exact moment when gigantic “bullets” of fast-moving material were launched from the region surrounding a black hole. They made this breakthrough by using the ultra-sharp radio “vision” of the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), along with NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, to study an outburst from a system including a black hole and its companion star in 2009.

Black holes in such binary-star systems can pull material from their companions. That material forms a rapidly-rotating disk of material around the black hole, and “jets” of material are thrown outward perpendicular to the disk. Most of the time, the jets show a steady flow of material, but occasionally the steady jets disappear and superfast “bullets” of material are ejected at speeds approaching that of light. Such an outburst can produce as much energy in an hour as the Sun emits in five years.

Full Story: http://www.nrao.edu/pr/2012/diskjet/

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