MAR 17, 2020 4:22 PM PDT

This Supermassive Black Hole Ejected Matter Faster Than 99% the Speed of Light

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Almost a year ago, astronomers released the first true image of a black hole. All efforts were focused on a supermassive black hole 50 million light-years away called M87*, which comprises of more than 6.5 billion solar masses. The resulting image exposed a dark spot surrounded by a bright accretion disk. More recently, astronomers glanced at M87* with an X-ray observatory, and that’s when they noticed something peculiar.

Initially, it appeared as if M87* was blasting physical matter from its poles at about 6 times the speed of light. But this wouldn’t actually be possible, as the laws of physics decree that anything with mass can’t travel faster than the speed of light. A closer inspection revealed that superluminal motion was causing an optical illusion and that this resulted in a miscalculation. Realistically, the matter was moving ~99% of the speed of light.

So while the laws of physics weren’t actually being broken by M87*, the matter being ejected from its poles was still indeed moving inconceivably fast. It’s believed that the material was first corralled toward the top and bottom of the black hole before it was ejected by the black hole’s powerful magnetic fields. These ejections also exhibit a blue hue, which is purportedly caused by fast-moving electrons.

While the idea that matter can move anywhere near this speed is indeed awe-inspiring, it’s worth noting that this feat has only been observed in the case of unthinkably large supermassive black holes like M87* and that the matter likely started as super-heated plasma before being ejected. While our minds may run while with how we might harness this short of power, it’s probably best that we keep our distance from black holes this large and powerful…

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 30, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 30, 2019
How SpaceX's Crew Dragon Will Operate, From Start to Finish
It’s no mystery by now that SpaceX is working hard to earn the right to ferry astronauts to the International Spac ...
FEB 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 02, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About Solar Orbiter
The Sun is something you see every day when you look up at the daytime sky, but despite residing right in plain sight, t ...
MAR 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 01, 2020
Utilizing the Moon's Resources for Lunar Missions
Plans for future space exploration are taking shape, and many of those are expected to be crewed. One such example invol ...
MAR 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 16, 2020
What Would it Take to Visit Alpha Centauri?
Humankind has long pondered upon the ambition of becoming a multiplanetary species. While much of our realistic focus re ...
APR 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 12, 2020
NASA Attaches Autonomous Helicopter to Perseverance Rover
Those paying any attention to NASA’s periodic updates during these past several weeks should have perceived what s ...
MAY 01, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 01, 2020
Giant elliptical galaxies are not likely to hold intelligent life
A previous paper published in 2015 theorized that giant elliptical galaxies would be 10,000 times more likely than spira ...
Loading Comments...