NASA's RXTE detect 'heartbeat' of smallest black hole candidate (w/ video)

Dec 15, 2011
Image: NASA

(PhysOrg.com) -- An international team of astronomers has identified a candidate for the smallest-known black hole using data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE). The evidence comes from a specific type of X-ray pattern, nicknamed a "heartbeat" because of its resemblance to an electrocardiogram. The pattern until now has been recorded in only one other black hole system.

Named IGR J17091-3624 after the astronomical coordinates of its sky position, the binary system combines a normal star with a black hole that may weigh less than three times the sun's mass. That is near the theoretical mass boundary where become possible.

Gas from the normal star streams toward the black hole and forms a disk around it. Friction within the disk heats the gas to millions of degrees, which is hot enough to emit X-rays. Cyclical variations in the intensity of the observed reflect processes taking place within the gas disk. Scientists think that the most rapid changes occur near the black hole's event horizon, the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This animation compares the X-ray 'heartbeats' of GRS 1915 and IGR J17091, two black holes that ingest gas from companion stars. GRS 1915 has nearly five times the mass of IGR J17091, which at three solar masses may be the smallest black hole known. A fly-through relates the heartbeats to hypothesized changes in the black hole's jet and disk. Credit: NASA

Astronomers first became aware of the binary system during an outburst in 2003. Archival data from various show it becomes active every few years. Its most recent outburst started in February and is ongoing. The system is located in the direction of the constellation Scorpius, but its distance is not well established. It could be as close as 16,000 light-years or more than 65,000 light-years away.

The record-holder for wide-ranging X-ray variability is another black hole named GRS 1915+105. This system is unique in displaying more than a dozen highly structured patterns, typically lasting between seconds and hours.

"We think that most of these patterns represent cycles of accumulation and ejection in an unstable disk, and we now see seven of them in IGR J17091," said Tomaso Belloni at Brera Observatory in Merate, Italy. "Identifying these signatures in a second black hole system is very exciting."

In GRS 1915, strong magnetic fields near the black hole's eject some of the gas into dual, oppositely directed jets that blast outward at about 98 percent the speed of light. The peak of its heartbeat emission corresponds to the emergence of the jet.

Changes in the X-ray spectrum observed by RXTE during each beat reveal that the innermost region of the disk emits enough radiation to push back the gas, creating a strong outward wind that stops the inward flow, briefly starving the black hole and shutting down the jet. This corresponds to the faintest emission. Eventually, the inner disk gets so bright and hot it essentially disintegrates and plunges toward the black hole, re-establishing the jet and beginning the cycle anew. This entire process happens in as little as 40 seconds.

While there is no direct evidence IGR J17091 possesses a particle jet, its heartbeat signature suggests that similar processes are at work. Researchers say that this system's heartbeat emission can be 20 times fainter than GRS 1915 and can cycle some eight times faster, in as little as five seconds.

Astronomers estimate that GRS 1915 is about 14 times the sun's mass, placing it among the most-massive-known black holes that have formed because of the collapse of a single star. The research team analyzed six months of RXTE observations to compare the two systems, concluding that IGR J17091 must possess a minuscule black hole.

"Just as the heart rate of a mouse is faster than an elephant's, the heartbeat signals from these black holes scale according to their masses," said Diego Altamirano, an astrophysicist at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands and lead author of a paper describing the findings in the Nov. 4 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The researchers say this analysis is just the start of a larger program to compare both of these black holes in detail using data from RXTE, NASA's Swift satellite and the European XMM-Newton observatory.

"Until this study, GRS 1915 was essentially a one-off, and there's only so much we can understand from a single example," said Tod Strohmayer, the project scientist for RXTE at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Now, with a second system exhibiting similar types of variability, we really can begin to test how well we understand what happens at the brink of a black hole."

Launched in late 1995, RXTE is second only to Hubble as the longest serving of NASA's operating astrophysics missions. RXTE provides a unique observing window into the extreme environments of neutron stars and black holes.

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Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 15, 2011
...the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape...


Queue dramatic music:

Dom...dom...dom...DOOM.

How is it we need an artists conception anyway?

Where the heck is the real image?

gwrede
not rated yet Dec 15, 2011
...the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape...
How is it we need an artists conception anyway?
Where the heck is the real image?

I'm sorry to tell you, they don't have a photo.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (3) Dec 15, 2011
...the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape...
How is it we need an artists conception anyway?
Where the heck is the real image?

I'm sorry to tell you, they don't have a photo.


They could've at least done something in infrared, so you could see something from the accretion disk or something.
Pirouette
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 15, 2011
...the point beyond which nothing, not even light, can escape...
How is it we need an artists conception anyway?
Where the heck is the real image?

I'm sorry to tell you, they don't have a photo.


They could've at least done something in infrared, so you could see something from the accretion disk or something.


There's a waiting list of a whole year. You will need to send in your application now. The cost is $10.00 payable in check or money order. Infrareds are slightly higher.
omatumr
1 / 5 (18) Dec 15, 2011
I'm sorry to tell you, they don't have a photo.


Actually my friend in Florida, Dr. David Fisher, published the first photo of a black hole several years ago in a novel about a university scientist.

Black holes are, of course, as imaginary as black magic.

Neutron repulsion [1,2] causes:

a) Massive neutron stars to appear as the mysterious 'Garden-sprinkler' nebula:

www.spacetelescop...ic0308a/

b) Less massive neutron stars to explode as supernovae

c) Smaller neutron stars to decay by neutron-emission

d) Heavy nuclei to fission and/or emit neutrons, until

e) The last remaining neutron decays to H

1. "Neutron Repulsion" Video
www.youtube.com/w...yLYSiPO0]www.youtube.com/w...yLYSiPO0[/url]

2. "Neutron Repulsion" The APEIRON Journal
www.youtube.com/w...yLYSiPO0]www.youtube.com/w...yLYSiPO0[/url]

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
www.omatumr.com/
http://myprofile....anuelo09
SleepTech
4.4 / 5 (8) Dec 16, 2011
Who do you think you're convincing Oliver? Its apparent that the smallest black hole in the universe is located right here on Earth, and it lies right underneath that thick skull of yours.
omatumr
1 / 5 (10) Dec 16, 2011
The book with the first published picture of a black hole was probably one of the early novels by Dr. David E. Fisher, a scientist with a better sense of humor than some folks here:

www.goodreads.com...E_Fisher
jsdarkdestruction
4 / 5 (7) Dec 16, 2011
the voices in olivers head tell him to post i think, I suppose it is alot better than his other pass time.
http://mominer.ms...hildren/
Dr. Oliver Manuel arrested for multiple counts of rape and sodomy of his children
ubavontuba
2 / 5 (12) Dec 16, 2011
I love the way artists depict black holes sucking the gas out of a companion star like it's a Hoover Vacuum or something.

The only gas the black hole can absorb is gas which the companion star ejects normally.

If it was close enough to suck gas off the surface, the comapnion star would be in the final stages of a death spiral.

Ethelred
4 / 5 (16) Dec 16, 2011
Black holes are, of course, as imaginary as black magic.
I didn't know you believed in black magic. I learn something new every day and sometimes every minute.

Of course even Black Magic is more real than the Iron Sun or neutron repulsion which has no evidence of existence despite all the experiments that have been done with neutrons and all the observations of the Sun.

Here is that link that any remotely competent scientist would look at if they were interested at all in how neutrons behave.
http://www.physor...ons.html

Funny the way YOU keep avoiding it. A clear indication you don't want to sully your mind with reality.

Just keep running away Oliver. Keep proving me right and yourself wrong by default. I suppose you think that is better than alternative. Another loss in debate to a college dropout. If can't even come close to dealing with me Oliver you have no chance with your former colleagues.

Ethelred
Nanobanano
4 / 5 (4) Dec 16, 2011
ubavontuba:

You're exactly right.

In fact, the black hole would actually absorb LESS matter from the companion star on average than it did before it even became a black hole.

Why? A black hole's event horizon is so much smaller than the cross-section of a main sequence star.

it's simple geometry, the ejecta, radiation, and solar wind coming out of the companion star is actually more likely to collide with the full radius of a main sequence star than it is to be caught in the event horizon of a stellar mass black hole of the same mass and distance.

But let's not let REAL math or spacial analysis get in the way of the propaganda.

It's true that over a ridiculously long time a black hole would eat up ejecta, radiation, and stellar wind particles and therefore gain mass, but the "science fiction" artists conception is generally just BS.
Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 16, 2011
If you have a binary system in stable orbits, and one of the stars is magically replaced with a black hole of the exact same mass, the other star will notice absolutely no gravitational difference.

In fact, in real systems, when one Star goes supernova, it "should" be more likely to eject it's companion in the explosion, than it would be to capture it.

After all, once it loses 1/3rd of it's mass in the explosion, the gravity that held the companion in place will actually be LOWER than it was when it was a main sequence star.

So if anything, the original companion should actually escape the system.

After all, if the Sun lost 1/3rd of it's mass in an explosion, the planets would all fly away on hyperbolic trajectories...

The black hole is actually more likely to collide with a completely different star, than it is to eat it's own "original" companion...
ubavontuba
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 17, 2011
@Nanobanano:
You're exactly right.
And you're generally right as well. However, binary systems are likely to remain binary systems after a supernova. In fact, they're likely to move a bit closer together.

The reason being is the gravity well around the star which didn't explode doesn't at first change. What will happen though is it will wobble less as the newly lighter binary partner won't be able to jerk it around so much. As the companion star gathers some of the ejected mass from the supernova, it will become more massive and therfore will have a steeper gravity well. The black hole will therefore move in a bit. But this effect is probably quite minimal.

And, of course, this is presuming the explosive force is evenly distributed. If not, an acceleration in any direction might occur.

Think about it like this: Generally speaking, a tin can will orbit the earth in the same amount of time as the moon, at the same orbital distance.

ubavontuba
1.3 / 5 (14) Dec 17, 2011
@Ethelred
I didn't know you believed in black magic.
I think that's about enough of that. There are obviously issues here which will not be resolved with your scorn.

Personally, I've noticed he engages much less and I think this isn't necessarily a good thing. It may be better for him and society to keep his mind occupied here, than elsewhere...

Ethelred
3.4 / 5 (10) Dec 17, 2011
I think that's about enough of that.
Its enough of his spamming. Anytime he wants to start discussing things I and others are here. Anytime he want to spam he and you should expect a response from others.

Personally, I've noticed he engages much less and I think this isn't necessarily a good thing.
That I agree on. It is up to him to stop spamming and start engaging.

It may be better for him and society to keep his mind occupied here, than elsewhere...
He is still on probation. He can't go far and he will be arrested if he goes to wrong places and his probation finds out.

Spamming doesn't take much time. He has a set of canned links and a few canned line repeats. I am not looking for him. IF he and I are on the same thread I have no reason not to reply.

If Physorg ever starts treating it as spam I will just hit the abuse button because he is abusing the site. In the meantime his posts should be responded to.

More
Ethelred
3.5 / 5 (11) Dec 17, 2011
My scorn, as you put it, is directed at his refusal to engage AND his hatred and lies directed at hard working scientists. If he just spamms with his nonsense and drops the lies and hate he will get a different kind of response.

In this case he got a response directed at his science and his running away but on the same day he crapped on people in more than half his posts.

You are welcome to ignore him. I an not going to do that.

Deal with it however you wish.

Ethelred
Callippo
1.4 / 5 (10) Dec 17, 2011
Everyone who is responding to spammers is a spammer too. Most of Ethelread's posts are just about ommatur and he's annoying as well, because both these guys are the same psychos. They even use the same explicit signatures of their posts. From the similar reason Hitler was so obsessed with Stalin and vice versa.
Ethelred
3.5 / 5 (8) Dec 17, 2011
Everyone who is responding to spammers is a spammer too.
So everyone that responds to you is a spammer then. I will have to keep that in mind.

I also keep in mind that you lie a lot. And that was yet another.

Most of Ethelread's posts are just about ommatur
Like that one.

both these guys are the same psychos.
Coming from a sociopath that uses multiple logins and has pretended to be several persons in a conversation that is a bit rich.

They even use the same explicit signatures of their posts
Hmm.

Ethelred


With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
www.omatumr.com/
http://myprofile....anuelo09


Funny those don't look the same. You need to do something about those hallucinations.>>
Ethelred
3.5 / 5 (8) Dec 17, 2011
From the similar reason Hitler was so obsessed with Stalin and vice versa.
Why are so obsessed with me and my use of a perfectly reasonable signature? I have noticed that the people that obsess over it are the people that can only engage in ad hominem attacks in response to my replies. Don't you find it embarrassing that the best you can manage is to lie about my posting and pitching fits about my signature? If I was that inept I would just not post.

Now when are you going to explicitly and clearly lay out those propositions of your theory that you claim to have? I ask because you prefer to run away instead of answer that sort of question.

So goodbye.

Ethelred
ubavontuba
2.1 / 5 (10) Dec 17, 2011
@IEthelred:
Its enough of his spamming. Anytime he wants to start discussing things I and others are here. Anytime he want to spam he and you should expect a response from others.
I agree that spam posts are annoying, particularly from those that obviously have no real interest in learning about the science to which they are commenting.

But I do agree that responding to spammers tends to resemble spam, as well. And it usually appears more obnoxious than the original spam.

And presuming you can somehow convince the unreasonable to act reasonably, I suggest, is only an exercise in futility.

As I've had occasion to enjoy many of your science based posts, I'd much rather you spend your time discussing the science, yourself.

Now when are you going to explicitly and clearly lay out those propositions of your theory that you claim to have?
I've already discussed this with Callippo/Zephyr. It turns out there aren't any propositions. He just makes it all up as he goes along.
jsdarkdestruction
5 / 5 (6) Dec 18, 2011
From the similar reason Hitler was so obsessed with Stalin and vice versa.

wow, just wow. thats bunch of fucking nonsense. the only person ive ever seen say anything more stupid is oliver and you actually got pretty close. you are one of the biggest spammers on the site and have multiple sock puppet accounts you spam from too. you have absolutely NO business talking about spamming. do you know how tired we are of your spamming too? aether this, ripples in a pond that, blah blah blah.
Ethelred
3.2 / 5 (9) Dec 18, 2011
But I do agree that responding to spammers tends to resemble spam, as well. And it usually appears more obnoxious than the original spam.
Well since you are agreeing with a spammer on that I will have just ignore it as an opinion I think is rubbish.

And presuming you can somehow convince the unreasonable to act reasonably, I suggest, is only an exercise in futility.
Who hell the said I was presuming any such a thing?

On any site with moderation he would be gone or kept to the official Crank discussions. Anyone that thinks that people should just ignore them is simply not dealing with what happens when such people are unopposed. They usually don't go away. They usually get worse.
>>
Ethelred
3.3 / 5 (9) Dec 18, 2011
And if you haven't notices Oliver HAS changed his posts. After sufficient embarrassment has dropped several of his lines of nonsense and changed others. He just doesn't acknowledge that my replies were the reasons. If I had left it alone he would still be using the same nonsense along with all the new nonsense he scrapes of the anti-science sites.

I've already discussed this with Callippo/Zephyr. It turns out there aren't any propositions. He just makes it all up as he goes along.
That was my point. He lied about having them. He also ran off rather than deal with that fact. I noticed this right about the time I saw a request for the 'predicates logics', I think it was, in an old post by Skeptic Heretic.

Ethelred
omatumr
1 / 5 (8) Dec 18, 2011
1. Politicians spread fear and an illusion of control over nature

www.ipa.org.au/pu...c-alarms

2. Ignoring precise rest mass data on atoms that show:

a.) Neutrons attract protons to make stable atoms

b.) Neutrons repel other neutrons;
__Neutron-rich atoms are unstable

c.) Protons repel protons even more strongly;
__Proton-rich atoms are less stable

d.) A benevolent Reality sustains us in a "Cradle of the Nuclides"

www.amazon.com/Or...06465620

http://dl.dropbox..._Not.pdf

3. Their illusion of control will vanish when the public learns a pulsar gave birth to the Solar System and its elements and still controls our fate today.

http://dl.dropbox...asks.pdf

So be of good cheer!
O. K. Manuel
www.omatumr.com
http://myprofile....anuelo09

PS - The greatest danger is that frightened world leaders may act foolishly to preserve their false illusion of control
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (3) Dec 18, 2011
On any site with moderation he would be gone or kept to the official Crank discussions. Anyone that thinks that people should just ignore them is simply not dealing with what happens when such people are unopposed. They usually don't go away. They usually get worse.
Well, I don't think they get worse so much as regular science posters get frustrated and leave, leaving the site filled with nothing but spam. In part, I think the flamers contribute to the science poster's frustration and discomfort. This is why I think it's important for posters like you to stick to the science and ignore spammers.

Responding, periodically, to the spam to present the real science is good, but flaming the spammers is only detrimental to the over all quality of the discussion.

I think it was, in an old post by Skeptic Heretic.
Whatever happend to Skeptic Heretic? He used to post some good stuff.

Ethelred
3 / 5 (4) Dec 19, 2011
2. Ignoring precise rest mass data on atoms that show:
How about you stop ignoring the evidence yourself. The evidence is that the Sun is does not have an iron or neutron core and neutrons don't repel.

Oh yes you keep ignoring your own evidence as well. That table PROVES there is no such thing as neutron repulsion because the neutron to proton ratios simply make no sense at all if neutrons repel each other.

Whatever happend to Skeptic Heretic?

He got tired of the idiots and moved over to ArsTechnia. Well that is what he claimed. I think he burned out trying to deal with Marjon's every idiot post. Marjon can produce stupidity at the speed of light and may be the only thing that repels neutrons.

Ethelred
Seeker2
1 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2011
It's true that over a ridiculously long time a black hole would eat up ejecta, radiation, and stellar wind particles and therefore gain mass, but the "science fiction" artists conception is generally just BS.
Black holes evaporate in ridiculously long times.

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