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
APR 13, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Think again: does the presence of oxygen really mean life on other planets?
APR 13, 2021
Think again: does the presence of oxygen really mean life on other planets?
Does the presence of oxygen mean the existence of life? That’s a question that scientists have been debating over ...
JUL 04, 2021
Space & Astronomy
After the Big Bang Came the Cosmic Dawn
JUL 04, 2021
After the Big Bang Came the Cosmic Dawn
It's been estimated that the universe began about 13.8 billion years ago in a violent explosion known as the Big Bang. R ...
JUL 26, 2021
Space & Astronomy
A Moon-Forming Disc is Observed Surrounding an Exoplanet
JUL 26, 2021
A Moon-Forming Disc is Observed Surrounding an Exoplanet
Researchers have been able to detect a disc surrounding an exoplanet called PDS 70c with the Atacama Large Millimeter/su ...
SEP 01, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
New Study Suggests One-third of Binary Stars Have Engulfed Their Planets
SEP 01, 2021
New Study Suggests One-third of Binary Stars Have Engulfed Their Planets
While our solar system is relatively calm and inert, some sun-like stars out there will literally eat the planets in the ...
SEP 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
NASA Announces December Launch Date for James Webb Space Telescope
SEP 10, 2021
NASA Announces December Launch Date for James Webb Space Telescope
Recently, NASA confirmed that the gamut of earth-based testing for the James Webb Space Telescope has been completed. Ju ...
SEP 23, 2021
Immunology
Houses on Mars Held Together With Astronaut Blood?!
SEP 23, 2021
Houses on Mars Held Together With Astronaut Blood?!
A protein abundantly present in the blood plasma of astronauts is perfect for building shelters in outer space, say rese ...
Loading Comments...