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 21, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Did This Interstellar Comet Reveal Vital Clues About its Origins?
APR 21, 2020
Did This Interstellar Comet Reveal Vital Clues About its Origins?
Oumuamua received tons of attention from astronomers once it was confirmed to be an interstellar object of unknown origi ...
APR 22, 2020
Earth & The Environment
5 Things You Didn't Know About Earth
APR 22, 2020
5 Things You Didn't Know About Earth
Happy Earth Day! All though we should take action every day to appreciate our home, planet Earth. Today it gets a little ...
JUN 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Space Agencies Are Developing Novel Space Junk Cleanup Tools
JUN 08, 2020
Space Agencies Are Developing Novel Space Junk Cleanup Tools
There are thousands of satellites orbiting the Earth today, with some residing in Low-Earth Orbit and others following a ...
AUG 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
AUG 09, 2020
Human Spaceflight Returns to the US with SpaceX's Success
On August 7, A SpaceX recovery vessel called GO Navigator brought the Crew Dragon capsule back to its home port.
AUG 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
AUG 27, 2020
Space Rock May Contain Building Blocks for DNA
Researchers say that a space rock that landed in Costa Rica on April 23rd, 2019, came from an asteroid that exists as a ...
SEP 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
SEP 15, 2020
Carbon-rich Planets May Be Full of Diamonds
Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Chicago have found that carbon-rich planets outside our ...
Loading Comments...