New research challenges existing models of black holes

January 19, 2018 by Joanna Carver, University of Texas at San Antonio
New research challenges existing models of black holes
Credit: University of Texas at San Antonio

Chris Packham, associate professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has collaborated on a new study that expands the scientific community's understanding of black holes in our galaxy and the magnetic fields that surround them.

"Dr. Packham's collaborative work on this study is a great example of the innovative research happening now in physics at UTSA. I'm excited to see what new research will result from these findings," said George Perry, dean of the UTSA College of Sciences and Semmes Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Neurobiology.

Packham and astronomers lead from the University of Florida observed the of a black hole within our own galaxy from multiple wavelengths for the first time. The results, which were a collective effort among several researchers, are deeply enlightening about some of the most mysterious objects in space.

A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so strongly that even light cannot escape its grasp. Black holes usually form when a massive star explodes and the remnant core collapses under the force of intense gravity. As an example, if a star around 3 times more massive than our own Sun became a black hole, it would be roughly the size of San Antonio. The black hole Packham and his collaborators featured in their study, which was recently published in Science, contains about 10 times the mass of our own sun and is known as V404 Cygni.

"The Earth, like many planets and stars, has a magnetic field that sprouts out of the North Pole, circles the planet and goes back into the South Pole. It exists because the Earth has a hot, liquid iron rich core," said Packham. "That flow creates electric currents that create a magnetic field. A black hole has a magnetic field as it was created from the remnant of a star after the explosion."

As matter is broken down around a black hole, jets of electrons are launched by the magnetic field from either pole of the black hole at almost the speed of light. Astronomers have long been flummoxed by these jets.

These new and unique observations of the jets and estimates of magnetic field of V404 Cygni involved studying the body at several different wavelengths. These tests allowed the group to gain a much clearer understanding of the strength of its magnetic . They discovered that magnetic fields are much weaker than previously understood, a puzzling finding that calls into question previous models of black hole components. The research shows a deep need for continued studies on some of the most mysterious entities in space.

"We need to understand in general," Packham said. "If we go back to the very earliest point in our universe, just after the big bang, there seems to have always been a strong correlation between black holes and galaxies. It seems that the birth and evolution of black holes and galaxies, our cosmic island, are intimately linked. Our results are surprising and one that we're still trying to puzzle out."

Explore further: Rare glimpse of a black hole's magnetic field could help us to understand how it feeds

More information: Yigit Dallilar et al, A precise measurement of the magnetic field in the corona of the black hole binary V404 Cygni, Science (2017). DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0249

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7 comments

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cardzeus
3.3 / 5 (7) Jan 19, 2018
Saying it would be the size of San Antonio is meaningless... why can't you just tell us the radius?
ellbeeyoo
4 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2018
OK, one result that concludes mag fields around BHs doesn't comport with current model. So, that means we have to overturn everything we suspect about BHs, data collected and analyzed over many decades?
I have serious issues with the attitudes of many researchers these days overselling their studies, inserting hyperbole into their press releases and otherwise being unprofessional.
I will admit that many times the issue is the headline, which the authors of the study have no control over, but often times it is the statements of the researchers that are problematic.
There is nothing wrong with a little humility.
ursiny33
2 / 5 (1) Jan 19, 2018
All atoms approaching a black hole are stripped of there orbiting electrons in high velocity kinetic particle collisions these electrons orbit the black hole held by gravity in orbit , they dont pass thru the black hole like earth they just orbit the nuetrons and protons of those atom that are getting torn apart in the high velocity kinetic collisions get trap inside this magnetic field that orbits the black hole like a magnetic field containment vessel where they can not escapeso if too many atoms inside this magnetic vesselaround the black hole is more than the black hole can process into its feeding hole an over pressure event of particles takes place in the magnetic containment vessel that gets ejected out the polesthe weakest points of the orbiting electron field
milnik
1 / 5 (3) Jan 19, 2018
Do not be incalculable and without spirituality, because your knowledge will lose the connection to the truth and then you will have countless stupid and unconnected variants for each occurrence.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (5) Jan 19, 2018
"If we go back to the very earliest point in our universe, just after the big bang, there seems to have always been a strong correlation between black holes and galaxies. It seems that the birth and evolution of black holes and galaxies, our cosmic island, are intimately linked.

Correlation indeed! As taught by LaViolette, the supermassive grey core stars actually spawn the ejected matter that then forms the galaxy. It is a continuous process. There was never the fabled beginning as taught by the Huge Bang Fantasy. Bang your heads on that, merger maniacs!
theenlightening
5 / 5 (2) Jan 20, 2018
V404 Cygni seems like an unusual choice for any sort of generalized statement about the strength of the magnetic fields of black holes. V404 Cygni is a microquasar, and therefore part of a binary system. As such, its accretion disk is extraordinarily hotter than the accretion disk of what would be considered a standard-type quasar. The temperature of a microquasar is on the order of several million degrees, vs a temperature of several thousand degrees for a more standard quasar. It seems rather obvious that the magnetic field of such an "unusual" black hole may itself be unusual. This black hole, V404, is a far, far cry from Sagittarius A, for example, at the center of our galaxy. Certainly it is interesting data, but to draw any sort of universal conclusion about the magnetic field of black holes is illogical.
skeypixels
4.5 / 5 (2) Jan 20, 2018
Saying it would be the size of San Antonio is meaningless... why can't you just tell us the radius?

I have the same feeling. Not all understand how sizable San Antonio is. The dimension(radius) would make the comparison more logical.

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