Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume

January 12, 2018, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan
Artist's conception of the accretion disk around a spinning super-massive black hole. The rotation of the black hole may cause the high-speed jet which makes the object radio-loud. Credit: NAOJ

Statistical analysis of supermassive black holes suggests that the spin of the black hole may play a role in the generation of powerful high-speed jets blasting radio waves and other radiation across the universe.

Black holes absorb light and all other forms of radiation, making them impossible to detect directly. But the effects of black holes, in particular where matter is shredded and superheated as it spirals down into the black hole, can release enormous amounts of energy. The accretion disks around supermassive black holes (black holes with masses millions of times that of the sun) are some of the brightest objects in the universe. These objects are called "quasi-stellar sources" or "quasars," but actually this is a misnomer; only about 10% of quasars emit strong . We now know that "radio loud" quasars occur when a fraction of the matter in the accretion disk avoids the final fate of falling into the black hole and comes blasting back out into space in high-speed jets emitted from the poles of the black hole. But we still don't understand why jets form some times and not other times.

A team led by Dr. Andreas Schulze at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan investigated the possibility that the spin of the might play a role in determining if the high-speed jets form. Because cannot be observed directly, Schulze's team instead measured emissions from oxygen ions [O III] around the black hole and accretion disk to determine the radiative efficiency; i.e. how much energy matter releases as it falls into the black hole. From the radiative efficiency they were able to calculate the spin of the black hole at the center.

By analyzing nearly 8000 quasars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Schulze's team found that on average the O III oxygen emissions are 1.5 times stronger in radio loud quasars than in radio quiet quasars. This implies that spin is an important factor in the generation of jets.

Schulze cautions, "Our approach, like others, relies on a number of key assumptions. Our results certainly don't mean that spin must be the only factor for differentiation between radio-loud and radio-quiet quasars. The results do suggest, however, that we shouldn't count spin out of the game. It might be determining the loudness of these distant accreting monsters."

These results were published as "Evidence for Higher Black Hole Spin in Radio-loud Quasars" by Schulze, et. al. in the Astrophysical Journal in November 2017.

Explore further: Study suggests black hole jets get their power from spin

More information: Andreas Schulze et al. Evidence for Higher Black Hole Spin in Radio-loud Quasars, The Astrophysical Journal (2017). DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/aa9181

Related Stories

Study suggests black hole jets get their power from spin

November 20, 2014

(Phys.org) —A team of space scientists working in Italy has found more evidence that suggests the energy needed to emit jets from supermassive black holes comes from the spin of the black hole itself. In their paper published ...

DRAGNs in the sky

September 9, 2014

A radio galaxy is a galaxy that emits large amounts of radio waves. They were first discovered in the 1950s, but it wasn't until the 1960s when a technique known as aperture synthesis was developed that we could resolve the ...

The power of spin

January 28, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Supermasssive black holes - objects with masses of millions or billions of suns - are found at the nuclei of dramatic galaxies like quasars where they are responsible for some of the most spectacular phenomena ...

Robin Hood black holes steal from nebulae to make new stars

September 5, 2017

It's easy to picture a black hole as a kind of all-powerful cosmic drain, a sinkhole of super-strong gravity that snags and swallows passing nebulae or stars. While it is true we can't observe matter once it crosses a black ...

Black holes spinning faster than ever before

May 23, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Two UK astronomers have found that the giant black holes in the centre of galaxies are on average spinning faster than at any time in the history of the Universe. Dr Alejo Martinez-Sansigre of the University ...

Cosmic jets light up black hole's snack

December 16, 2015

A black hole is often thought of as a giant galactic vacuum cleaner constantly sucking in cosmic material, tearing it apart and swallowing it. So black holes should do exactly the same thing with stars, right?

Recommended for you

Magnetized inflow accreting to center of Milky Way galaxy

August 17, 2018

Are magnetic fields an important guiding force for gas accreting to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) like the one that our Milky Way galaxy hosts? The role of magnetic fields in gas accretion is little understood, and trying ...

First science with ALMA's highest-frequency capabilities

August 17, 2018

The ALMA telescope in Chile has transformed how we see the universe, showing us otherwise invisible parts of the cosmos. This array of incredibly precise antennas studies a comparatively high-frequency sliver of radio light: ...

Another way for stellar-mass black holes to grow larger

August 17, 2018

A trio of researchers with The University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan and Northwestern University in the U.S., has come up with an alternative theory to explain how some ...

Six things about Opportunity's recovery efforts

August 17, 2018

NASA's Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is "decaying"—meaning more ...

Sprawling galaxy cluster found hiding in plain sight

August 16, 2018

MIT scientists have uncovered a sprawling new galaxy cluster hiding in plain sight. The cluster, which sits a mere 2.4 billion light years from Earth, is made up of hundreds of individual galaxies and surrounds an extremely ...

Hubble paints picture of the evolving universe

August 16, 2018

Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe. The field features approximately 15,000 ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ursiny33
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2018
The magnetic field around the black hole is made of free electrons stripped from atoms in its accretion disks high speed kinetic collisions those electrons are in a huge outer orbit held by gravity of the black holes mass , its a magnetic containment vessel to all the atoms and neutrons and protons inside its accretion disk with zero escape, over pressure in the magnetic containment vessel of these charged particles collect at the poles since the black hole can only consume so much material at a time depending on its mass . That material breaks the magnetic vessel at its poles where the most twist in electrons gravity orbits occur from the spin
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Jan 13, 2018
The plasma ignoramuses knowledge of real plasma physics is truly a pathetic display. All they really have is a bunch of mindless pseudoscientific mumbo jumbo conjured up into mathematical constructs with no physical meaning. And the pseudo-sci-fi crowd eats it up like the religious acolytes that they are.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.