Chandra adds to black hole birth announcement

Nov 17, 2011
Over three decades ago, Stephen Hawking placed -- and eventually lost - a bet against the existence of a black hole in Cygnus X-1. Today, astronomers are confident the Cygnus X-1 system contains a black hole. In fact, a team of scientists has combined data from radio, optical, and X-ray telescopes including Chandra to determine the black hole's spin, mass, and distance more precisely than ever before. With these key pieces of information, the history of the black hole has been reconstructed. This is an X-ray image of Cygnus X-1 from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Credit: NASA/CXC

New details about the birth of a famous black hole that took place millions of years ago have been uncovered, thanks to a team of scientists who used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory as well as from radio, optical and other X-ray telescopes.

Over three decades ago, placed -- and eventually lost – a bet against the existence of a black hole in Cygnus X-1. Today, astronomers are confident the Cygnus X-1 system contains a black hole, and with these latest studies they have remarkably precise values of its mass, spin, and distance from Earth. With these key pieces of information, the history of the black hole has been reconstructed.

"This new information gives us strong clues about how the black hole was born, what it weighed and how fast it was spinning," said author Mark Reid of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass. "This is exciting because not much is known about the birth of black holes."

Reid led one of three papers -- all appearing in the November 10th issue of The Astrophysical Journal -- describing these new results on Cygnus X-1. The other papers were led by Jerome Orosz from San Diego State University and Lijun Gou, also from CfA.

Cygnus X-1 is a so-called stellar-mass black hole, a class of black holes that comes from the collapse of a massive star. The black hole is in close orbit with a massive, blue companion star.

Cygnus X-1 is located near large active regions of star formation in the Milky Way. An artist's illustration depicts what astronomers think is happening within the Cygnus X-1 system. Cygnus X-1 is a so-called stellar-mass black hole, a class of black holes that comes from the collapse of a massive star. The black hole pulls material from a massive, blue companion star toward it. This material forms a disk (shown in red and orange) that rotates around the black hole before falling into it or being redirected away from the black hole in the form of powerful jets. Credit: NASA/CXC/M. Weiss

Using X-ray data from Chandra, the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, and the Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics, a team of scientists was able to determine the spin of Cygnus X-1 with unprecedented accuracy, showing that the black hole is spinning at very close to its maximum rate. Its event horizon -- the point of no return for material falling towards a black hole -- is spinning around more than 800 times a second.

An independent study that compared the evolutionary history of the companion star with theoretical models indicates that the black hole was born some 6 million years ago. In this relatively short time (in astronomical terms), the black hole could not have pulled in enough gas to ramp up its spin very much. The implication is that Cygnus X-1 was likely born spinning very quickly.

Using optical observations of the companion star and its motion around its unseen companion, the team made the most precise determination ever for the mass of Cygnus X-1, of 14.8 times the mass of the Sun. It was likely to have been almost this massive at birth, because of lack of time for it to grow appreciably.

"We now know that Cygnus X-1 is one of the most massive stellar black holes in the Galaxy," said Orosz. "And, it's spinning as fast as any black hole we've ever seen."

Knowledge of the mass, spin and charge gives a complete description of a black hole, according to the so-called "No Hair" theorem. This theory postulates that all other information aside from these parameters is lost for eternity behind the event horizon. The charge for an astronomical black hole is expected to be almost zero, so only the mass and spin are needed.

"It is amazing to me that we have a complete description of this asteroid-sized object that is thousands of light years away," said Gou. "This means astronomers have a more complete understanding of this black hole than any other in our Galaxy."

The team also announced that they have made the most accurate distance estimate yet of Cygnus X-1 using the National Radio Observatory's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA). The new distance is about 6,070 light years from Earth. This accurate distance was a crucial ingredient for making the precise mass and spin determinations.

The radio observations also measured the motion of Cygnus X-1 through space, and this was combined with its measured velocity to give the three-dimensional velocity and position of the black hole.

This work showed that Cygnus X-1 is moving very slowly with respect to the Milky Way, implying it did not receive a large "kick" at birth. This supports an earlier conjecture that Cygnus X-1 was not born in a supernova, but instead may have resulted from the dark collapse of a progenitor star without an explosion. The progenitor of Cygnus X-1 was likely an extremely massive star, which initially had a mass greater than about 100 times the sun before losing it in a vigorous stellar wind.

In 1974, soon after Cygnus X-1 became a good candidate for a black hole, Stephen Hawking placed a bet with fellow astrophysicist Kip Thorne, a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology, that Cygnus X-1 did not contain a black hole. This was treated as an insurance policy by Hawking, who had done a lot of work on and general relativity.

By 1990, however, much more work on Cygnus X-1 had strengthened the evidence for it being a black hole. With the help of family, nurses, and friends, Hawking broke into Thorne's office, found the framed bet, and conceded.

"For forty years, Cygnus X-1 has been the iconic example of a black hole. However, despite Hawking's concession, I have never been completely convinced that it really does contain a black hole -- until now," said Thorne. "The data and modeling described in these three papers at last provide a completely definitive description of this binary system."

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omatumr
1 / 5 (22) Nov 17, 2011
Over three decades ago, Stephen Hawking placed -- and eventually lost a bet against the existence of a black hole in Cygnus X-1.


Give his money back!

Over three decades ago, repulsive forces between neutrons had not been noted in rest masses of all nuclei with two or more neutrons [1-4].

That prevents the collapse of massive neutron stars into black holes. Thus, Hawking guessed correctly and deserves his money back.

1. "Attraction and repulsion of nucleons: Sources of stellar energy," JFE 19, 93-98 (2001)
www.omatumr.com/abstracts/jfeinterbetnuc.pdf]www.omatumr.com/a...tnuc.pdf[/url]

2. "Neutron repulsion confirmed as energy source," JFE 20, 197-201 (2002)
www.springerlink....6685079/

3. "Is the Universe Expanding?" J. Cosmology 13, 4187-4190 (2011)
http://journalofc...102.html

4. "Neutron Repulsion", APEIRON J., in press (2011)
http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
www.omatumr.com/
PosterusNeticus
4.6 / 5 (20) Nov 17, 2011
Oh, Oliver. I suppose then you can explain why this "neutron star" of 14.8 solar masses emits no detectable radiation of its own, while the Crab Nebula pulsar, at roughly the same distance, is plainly visible even though it has only a fraction of the mass?

Could it be because the latter is *actually* a neutron star, and that Cygnus X1 is *clearly* a black hole?

You know what? Forget Cygnus X1. Let's talk about Sgr A*. I would just love to hear how a ~4,000,000 Solar Mass object that emits no light is anything other than a black hole. Dazzle me.

There's a difference between determination and obsession to the point of denial. Don't you understand that your behavior indicates that you are not well?
bewertow
4.5 / 5 (8) Nov 17, 2011
Over three decades ago, Stephen Hawking placed -- and eventually lost a bet against the existence of a black hole in Cygnus X-1.


Give his money back!

Over three decades ago, repulsive forces between neutrons had not been noted in rest masses of all nuclei with two or more neutrons [1-4].

That prevents the collapse of massive neutron stars into black holes. Thus, Hawking guessed correctly and deserves his money back.

1. "Attraction and repulsion of nucleons: Sources of stellar energy," JFE 19, 93-98 (2001)
http://[url=http://www.omatumr.com/


Hey look, another wikipedia n00b who doesn't know any physics.
that_guy
1.7 / 5 (6) Nov 17, 2011
"It is amazing to me that we have a complete description of this asteroid-sized object that is thousands of light years away," said Gou


Well, apparently the astronomer quoted in this article secretly believes that hawking should get his money back too. hahaha.

By referring to it as an asteroid sized object, he is denying that it is a singularity. While functionally the same as a black hole, technically it would be a 'Dark Star' if Gou is correct.

At 14 Solar masses, the schwarzchild radius is definitely bigger than an asteroid. (it would be comparable to the radius of uranus)
PosterusNeticus
4.6 / 5 (9) Nov 17, 2011
At 14 Solar masses, the schwarzchild radius is definitely bigger than an asteroid. (it would be comparable to the radius of uranus)


At 14.8 solar masses, I calculate a Schwarzschild radius of about 43.7 kilometers. Quite a bit shy of the radius of Uranus, but right on target for an asteroid.

Did you forget to make sure your units were in line? Maybe you solved for meters and misread it as kilometers?
that_guy
3 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2011
Did you forget to make sure your units were in line? Maybe you solved for meters and misread it as kilometers?

ahhhh, you are correct. I retract my earlier statement.

On that note, 43 KM sounds a bit high. Did you actually run the calculations or just estimate it?
that_guy
5 / 5 (3) Nov 17, 2011
Did you forget to make sure your units were in line? Maybe you solved for meters and misread it as kilometers?

ahhhh, you are correct. I retract my earlier statement.

On that note, 43 KM sounds a bit high. Did you actually run the calculations or just estimate it?

NM that last bit. Just rechecked my figures.
jsdarkdestruction
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 17, 2011
Oliver Manuel's recent efforts to plaster Physorg.com and other public news sites with his theories and personal URLs are a bit puzzling, as scientists have a variety of publications available to communicate directly to each other in. My best guess is that he is desperately trying to prop up his legacy in light of his arrest in his university office on 7 charges of rape and sodomy based on allegations by 4 of his own children. The charges have been reduced to one count of felony attempted sodomy, not necessarily because of his innocence, but because of the statute of limitations. One can only guess how the recent charges and decades of family strife have affected his ability to reason rationally and to remain objective while defending his unpopular theories.

http://www.homefa...uel.html

http://mominer.ms...hildren/
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (3) Nov 18, 2011
"It is amazing to me that we have a complete description of this asteroid-sized object that is thousands of light years away," said Gou


Well, apparently the astronomer quoted in this article secretly believes that hawking should get his money back too. hahaha.

By referring to it as an asteroid sized object, he is denying that it is a singularity. While functionally the same as a black hole, technically it would be a 'Dark Star' if Gou is correct.

At 14 Solar masses, the schwarzchild radius is definitely bigger than an asteroid. (it would be comparable to the radius of uranus)


Did you bother to do the calculation? At 14.8 Stellar masses it appears to me to have a radius of about 43 km. Definitely not the size of Uranus and well within the size of an asteroid. Please show your work. I used the proportionality constant of 2.95 km/stellar mass. What did you use?
PS3
Nov 18, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Decimatus
not rated yet Nov 18, 2011
Oliver Manuel's recent efforts to plaster Physorg.com and other public news sites with his theories and personal URLs are a bit puzzling, as scientists have a variety of publications available to communicate directly to each other in. My best guess is that he is desperately trying to prop up his legacy in light of his arrest in his university office on 7 charges of rape and sodomy based on allegations by 4 of his own children. The charges have been reduced to one count of felony attempted sodomy, not necessarily because of his innocence, but because of the statute of limitations. One can only guess how the recent charges and decades of family strife have affected his ability to reason rationally and to remain objective while defending his unpopular theories.

http://www.homefa...uel.html


Wow, I wonder if that is really him, or a coinicidence/prank.

It would explain alot, but is a pretty sad joke otherwise...
David_Wishengrad
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
"There's a difference between determination and obsession to the point of denial. Don't you understand that your behavior indicates that you are not well?"

I agree with this statement. It is really on spot. I do not have the education in this astronomy area as many of you do, but in my personal art, and profession of my life, I have learned that life is the most important thing in life. That it is actually a most important self-evident truth. No one can discuss anything without life and anything said that does not hold life as most important is a fantastic comment that is; obsession. It seems most, if not all, are sick. We need some cures and the discoveries that are being poured out are pouring from life itself. Much respect.
that_guy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011

Did you bother to do the calculation? At 14.8 Stellar masses it appears to me to have a radius of about 43 km. Definitely not the size of Uranus and well within the size of an asteroid. Please show your work. I used the proportionality constant of 2.95 km/stellar mass. What did you use?


Did you bother checking the other comments? We already went down this road. I mistook my meters for kilometers. The retraction was already made.
thermodynamics
5 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2011
that_guy: It is good to know that two of us, independently, got about the same answer which was far from your original answer. The fact that I posted it a bit later is due to holding the page until I could get the time to look up and do the calculation. Just say thank you to both of us who caught your error. I am terribly sorry I wasn't quick enough to correct it in real time. When you hold a page the newest comments don't come in. That doesn't mean that someone holding a page for a calculation is ignoring the comments, they just pass in cyberspace. Again, you are welcome for the correction. I am glad you are so appreciativae of someone checking your work.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (2) Nov 19, 2011
i wish i was joking. here is his official entry in missouri sex offender registry.
http://www.mshp.d...leName=K
Ethelred
4.2 / 5 (10) Nov 19, 2011
Oliver are you ever going to look at the formula for a black hole vs mass? As long a you rant that Neutron Repulsion has the range to fragment galaxies and the strength to stop black holes there is no alternative but point out that if that was true:

Galaxies could not form.

Stars would be impossible. Even more so if they have a neutron core and a RIGID or even non-rigid iron mantle. Which is a model despite your claims of not making models.

Planets would be impossible.

Asteroids would be impossible, including the ones you studied and particularly the iron meteors.

All that put together makes you impossible as well.

Self contradiction is not a good sign in a theory even if you keep ignoring it. The rest of us can see it.

Running from the question is just evidence that you have no answer.

Ethelred
Whys
1 / 5 (10) Nov 19, 2011
This comment section reads like Fox News with a diploma. Arrogantly espousing nothing more than opinion and character assassination is not good science. Some of you are clearly only here to pump up your own egos. Let the science do the talking, in real journals, not some comment section somewhere. Silly children.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (3) Nov 22, 2011
Let the science do the talking, in real journals, not some comment section somewhere. Silly children.

gladly, when oliver stops spouting nonsense and submits an actual paper backed up with math and that also addresses all the other gaping holes in his neutron repulsion theory and a pulsar inside the sun.
MarkyMark
not rated yet Nov 22, 2011
Let the science do the talking, in real journals, not some comment section somewhere. Silly children.

gladly, when oliver stops spouting nonsense and submits an actual paper backed up with math and that also addresses all the other gaping holes in his neutron repulsion theory and a pulsar inside the sun.

Bravo.