Making the mega-band: Exploring how black holes become supermassive

Jun 05, 2013

(Phys.org) —Rock stars live fast, die young and end their days self-destructively. University of Alberta postdoctoral fellow Jeanette Gladstone says, surprisingly, some stars live the same way.

While most live long and happy lives, just like our Sun, before dying quietly to become a white dwarf, a few others take on the rock star persona. These stars burn through their fuel rapidly, dying in a huge explosion that results in a black hole. The problem is most black holes are incredibly difficult to see because their extreme gravitational pull attracts anything that strays too close, even light! Yet with the right partner, this strong gravity can also lead to these rock stars' comebacks, allowing us to observe them long after their death. If a star strays too close, it can be slowly torn apart and eaten by the black hole.

These stellar mass black holes weigh between 3 and 100 times the mass of our Sun, but they are just garage bands compared to space's equivalent to Muse and the Rolling Stones. that live in the centers of galaxies can weigh hundreds of thousands to billions of times the . Gladstone says it remains a mystery how these rock stars made it so big. Supermassive black holes could have begun as indie bands that rocketed to stardom with a brand new #1 hit. To do this, the black holes would have to gorge excessively, at rates that require . We might also expect to see some black holes that are intermediate in mass between stellar-mass and supermassive black holes in our , like a band that is consistently releasing albums, but never making it truly big.

Gladstone, the Avadh Bhatia Fellow in the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta, spoke on May 30, 2013, at the annual meeting for Canadian astronomers to present her survey of the nearest bizarre black holes that are either rapidly gorging or intermediate in mass, and discuss how mega-band black holes make it big.

Explore further: Researchers suggest gas cloud could reveal black holes near center of Milky Way galaxy

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Black holes growing faster than expected

Jan 16, 2013

(Phys.org)—Astronomers from Swinburne University of Technology have discovered how supermassive black holes grow - and it's not what was expected.

The origin of the s-star cluster at the galactic center

Jun 05, 2013

(Phys.org) —Scientists Fabio Antonini, of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, and David Merritt, of the Rochester Institute of Technology, have developed a new theory that explains the ...

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

Apr 18, 2014

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

Apr 18, 2014

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

Exoplanets soon to gleam in the eye of NESSI

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The New Mexico Exoplanet Spectroscopic Survey Instrument (NESSI) will soon get its first "taste" of exoplanets, helping astronomers decipher their chemical composition. Exoplanets are planets ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Easter morning delivery for space station

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via the SpaceX company's Dragon cargo capsule.

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.