Supermassive Black Hole Spins Super-Fast


Artist's conception. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Artist’s conception. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Imagine a sphere more than 2 million miles across – eight times the distance from Earth to the Moon – spinning so fast that its surface is traveling at nearly the speed of light. Such an object exists: the supermassive black hole at the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 1365.

Astronomers measured its jaw-dropping spin rate using new data from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray satellites.

Astronomers measured its jaw-dropping spin rate using new data from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray satellites.

Astronomers want to know the black hole’s spin for several reasons. The first is physical – only two numbers define a black hole: mass and spin. By learning those two numbers, you learn everything there is to know about the black hole.

Most importantly, the black hole’s spin gives clues to its past and by extension the evolution of its host galaxy. “The black hole’s spin is a memory, a record, of the past history of the galaxy as a whole,” explained Risaliti.

Full Story: http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2013/pr201307.html
Also: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-075
Also: https://www.llnl.gov/news/newsreleases/2013/Feb/NR-13-02-08.html

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