Black hole

How many black holes are there in the universe? Astrophysics

How many black holes are there in the universe?

A lot. If a star is heavy enough (i.e., it is still at least 2.5 solar masses after its supernova), then it continues to collapse until a black hole forms. Such stellar-sized black holes have been forming for quite some time, and more and more are forming. How many are there already? This intriguing question has been addressed by Alex Sicilia, a PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Lapi and Dr. Lumen Boco of Italy's Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati. In a first paper just published in the Astrophysical Journal, the authors studied the demography of…
What does a black hole look like from the inside? Astrophysics

What does a black hole look like from the inside?

A black hole is an amazing phenomenon. It is invisible because it does not even allow light to escape. Nevertheless, it can be imaged. It concentrates mass in a very small part of space - so small that the conventional laws of physics lose their meaning. Nevertheless, physicists are getting closer and closer to its secrets. One of them is what a black hole looks like inside. Black, it is clear, is not there. Quite the opposite. Inside, all the mass and energy that cannot escape the event horizon are concentrated. If one could see in a black hole,…
Black holes on a collision course Space

Black holes on a collision course

Do you already have something planned for the year 250,002,000? Then take an evening off and look with your future super telescopic eye at the area around the galaxy NGC 7727 in the constellation Aquarius. There, two super heavy black holes are colliding with each other. Today, they are still 1600 light-years apart, but they are the closest pair of black holes observed so far. Astronomers found it with the help of the European Southern Observatory's VLT. "It is the first time we have found two supermassive black holes so close together, less than half the distance of the previous…
The great barrier is real – for cosmic rays Astrophysics

The great barrier is real – for cosmic rays

The great barrier surrounding the core of the Milky Way is encountered in 2287 by the starship NCC-1701-A under the command of Captain James T. Kirk. Supposedly, it is impenetrable, and any ship that nevertheless dares to cross it will be destroyed. Kirk and his squad from the USS Enterprise prove the legend to be false. In fact, there is a kind of barrier around the galactic center - and this barrier is not an impenetrable wall. But, as astronomers have now discovered, it is an obstacle to cosmic rays. (more…)
Black holes determine the evolution of the universe Astrophysics

Black holes determine the evolution of the universe

In principle, they can only be recognized by what you can't see - and yet black holes have a decisive effect on the evolution of the universe. That's according to a new study by an international team of researchers from the University of Bologna and elsewhere. The work, published in Nature Astronomy, focuses on the Nest200047 system - a group of about 20 galaxies at a distance of about 200 million light-years from Earth. The central galaxy of this system hosts an active black hole, around which the researchers observed many pairs of gas bubbles of different ages, some unknown…
Let there be light: How to generate photons from nothing Astrophysics

Let there be light: How to generate photons from nothing

From black holes we know the effect of Hawking radiation: If in vacuum a pair of photons is born in a random way and one of them falls into the black hole, the other one remains: light from nothing. The energy debt to the universe must be paid by the black hole, which is why it evaporates over many billions of years. But there is a second trick. With the black hole the gravity plays the role of the magician who makes the one photon disappear. But according to the equivalence principle of the general relativity, the wizard can…
The birth of supermassive black holes from dark matter – and their growth Astrophysics

The birth of supermassive black holes from dark matter – and their growth

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old. In the beginning, there were no stars in it. But 600 to 800 million years later already mighty galaxies existed with gigantic black holes in their center, which are millions to billions times heavier than our sun. But where did these giants come from? For a long time it was assumed that they could have been formed by the collapse of gas clouds in protogalaxies. But the result is unsatisfactory. In this way, the black holes simply don't grow fast enough. A team led by a theoretical physicist at the University…
Merging boson stars instead of colliding black holes? Astrophysics

Merging boson stars instead of colliding black holes?

Bosons are particles with an even spin. They include the fundamental particles that mediate the individual interactions (such as photons for electromagnetism), but also composite particles such as helium-4 atoms. Their peculiarity is that any number of them can occupy the same ground state. They are then indistinguishable from each other and form a Bose-Einstein condensate with unusual properties. Among other things, the density of the condensate can approach infinity. This would make bosons good candidates for very heavy celestial bodies, where huge masses crowd into a small space. Who doesn't think of a black hole? But a celestial…