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Articles to support topics in the NSW HSC Physics course.
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Hubble captures star cluster 30 MILLION times brighter than the sun

Hubble captures star cluster 30 MILLION times brighter than the sun | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
An international team, led by astronomers from Sheffield University, said the cluster (pictured), 170,000 light years from Earth, is the largest group of very massive stars identified to date.
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Magnetic Waves From Distant Black Hole Shake Like Whip Being Held by Giant Hand

Magnetic Waves From Distant Black Hole Shake Like Whip Being Held by Giant Hand | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

NASA scientists say fast-moving waves coming from a distant supermassive black hole undulate like a whip whose handle is being held by a giant hand. NASA released a series of slinky-like images that illustrate the undulating waves. The observation was made by scientists studying data from National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Very Long Baseline Array. The galaxy/black hole system is called BL Lacertae (BL Lac).

 

This is the first time Alfven waves have been identified in a black hole system. The waves are generated when magnetic field lines interact with charged particles or ions. They then become twisted or coiled. The ions from BL Lac are in the form of particle jets flung from opposite sides of the black hole at speeds about 98 percent the speed of light. The jet is a flow of charged particles, called a plasma. It has a helical magnetic field that permeates the plasma. 


David Meier, a retired astrophysicist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology, says in a statement, "The waves are excited by a shaking motion of the jet at its base. By analyzing these waves, we are able to determine the internal properties of the jet, and this will help us ultimately understand how jets are produced by black holes." 

Marshall Cohen, an astronomer at Caltech and first author of the study, says, "Imagine running a water hose through a slinky that has been stretched taut. A sideways disturbance at one end of the slinky will create a wave that travels to the other end, and if the slinky sways to and fro, the hose running through its center has no choice but to move with it." 

The researchers say it is common for black hole particle jets to bend but it typically takes place of thousands of millions of years. Cohen says what is happening with the BL Lacertae system takes place in a matter of weeks. 

He says, "We're taking pictures once a month, and the position of the waves is different each month." 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Fossil stars point to our stellar origins › News in Science (ABC Science)

Fossil stars point to our stellar origins › News in Science (ABC Science) | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
Ancient stars which formed directly out of the first stars in the universe have been discovered in the outskirts of our galaxy, according to a new study.
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Is the Universe made of math?

Is the Universe made of math? | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Scientists have long used mathematics to describe the physical properties of the universe. But what if the universe itself is math?


Via Guillaume Decugis
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Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, February 1, 2014 12:31 PM
Yes: how about considering things the other way around? If cosmologist Max Tegmark's intuition is true this physicist says we can potentially understand all of it. But as he puts it, 'If My Idea Is Wrong, Physics Is Ultimately Doomed'
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P/2013 P5: Hubble Spots Bizarre Asteroid with Six Comet-Like Tails | Space Exploration | Sci-News.com

P/2013 P5: Hubble Spots Bizarre Asteroid with Six Comet-Like Tails | Space Exploration | Sci-News.com | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
A group of scientists using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a unique multi-tailed object, labeled P/2013 P5, in the main asteroid belt.
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God particle scientists win physics Nobel Prize

God particle scientists win physics Nobel Prize | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
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FRANCOIS Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain have won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics for their theoretical discoveries on how subatomic particles acquire mass.

Their theories are key to explaining the building blocks of matter and the origins of the universe. They were confirmed last year by the discovery of the so-called Higgs particle, also known as the Higgs boson, at CERN, the Geneva-based European Organisation for Nuclear Research, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

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Redox Power Plans To Roll Out Dishwasher-Sized Fuel Cells That Cost 90% Less Than Currently Available Fuel Cells

Redox Power Plans To Roll Out Dishwasher-Sized Fuel Cells That Cost 90% Less Than Currently Available Fuel Cells | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

Redox says that it plans to bring to market a fuel cell that is about one-tenth the size and one-tenth the cost of currently commercial fuel cells by 2014.

 

The breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology is the brainchild of Eric Wachsman, the director of the University of Maryland’s Energy Research Center.

 

Redox says that it will provide safe, efficient, reliable, uninterrupted power, on–site and optionally off the grid, at a price competitive with current energy sources.


Via Sepp Hasslberger
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Sepp Hasslberger's curator insight, August 20, 2013 12:10 PM

Projected 25 KW power plant that is to run on methane.

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The Most Important Image Captured By Hubble

The Most Important Image Captured By Hubble | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

Taking a risk by pointing Hubble in the direction of a starless black space, scientists ended up capturing one of the most profound images in history.


Via Marci Segal, MS
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Marci Segal, MS's curator insight, September 18, 2013 6:09 AM
The value of curiosity is beautifully demonstrated in this simple awe inspiring video. Thanks to Jay Aquilanti for the link.
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Made-to-order materials: Engineers focus on the nano to create strong, lightweight materials

Made-to-order materials: Engineers focus on the nano to create strong, lightweight materials | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

The lightweight skeletons of organisms such as sea sponges display a strength that far exceeds that of manmade products constructed from similar materials. Scientists have long suspected that the difference has to do with the hierarchical architecture of the biological materials—the way the silica-based skeletons are built up from different structural elements, some of which are measured on the scale of billionths of meters, or nanometers. Now engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have mimicked such a structure by creating nanostructured, hollow ceramic scaffolds, and have found that the small building blocks, or unit cells, do indeed display remarkable strength and resistance to failure despite being more than 85 percent air.


Via Alin Velea
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Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Soars in 2nd Rocket-Powered Flight Test

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Soars in 2nd Rocket-Powered Flight Test | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

\The space tourism company Virgin Galactic performed the second rocket-powered flight test of its SpaceShipTwo passenger spacecraft Thursday (Sept. 5), marking a major milestone for the spaceflight company.

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Scientists Capture Rare Photographs of Red Lightning

Scientists Capture Rare Photographs of Red Lightning | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

Sprites, also known as red lightning, are electrical discharges that appear as bursts of red light above clouds during thunderstorms.Because the weather phenomenon is so fleeting (sprites flash for just milliseconds) and for the most part not visible from the ground, they are difficult to observe and even more difficult to photograph, rather like the mischievous air spirits of the fantasy realm that they’re named for. Ahrns and his colleagues, however, have captured extremely rare photographs of the red lightning, using DSLR cameras and high speed video cameras positioned in the plane’s window. The researchers hope to learn more about the physical and chemical processes that give rise to sprites and other forms of upper atmospheric lightning.

 

What’s it like to capture images of some of nature’s most short-lived and erratic features? I questioned Ahrns over email, and he explained what sprites are, why they occur, how scientists find them and why he’s so interested in the elusive phenomena.

 

A sprite is a kind of upper atmosphere electrical discharge associated with thunderstorms. A large electric field, generated by some lightning strokes, ionizes the air high above the cloud, which then emits the light we see in the pictures. They obviously beg comparison to the regular lightning bolts we see all the time, but I like to point out that the sprites are much higher, with the tops reaching up to around 100 kilometers, and higher. A lightning bolt might stretch around 10 kilometers from the cloud to the ground, but a sprite can reach 50 kilometers tall.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Mind the gap: filling in the missing pieces for star clusters

Mind the gap: filling in the missing pieces for star clusters | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
My colleagues and I have confirmed the existence of a new type of star cluster – as published recently in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.But what are star clusters, and why do they…...
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MIT: How to make big things out of small interlocking composite components

MIT: How to make big things out of small interlocking composite components | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy. The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

 

Neil Gershenfeld, director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms, likens the structure — which is made from tiny, identical, interlocking parts — to chainmail. The parts, based on a novel geometry that Cheung developed with Gershenfeld, form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultralight materials. But this new structure can also be disassembled and reassembled easily — such as to repair damage, or to recycle the parts into a different configuration.

 

The individual parts can be mass-produced; Gershenfeld and Cheung are developing a robotic system to assemble them into wings, airplane fuselages, bridges or rockets — among many other possibilities.

The new design combines three fields of research, Gershenfeld says: fiber composites, cellular materials (those made with porous cells) and additive manufacturing (such as 3-D printing, where structures are built by depositing rather than removing material).

With conventional composites — now used in everything from golf clubs and tennis rackets to the components of Boeing’s new 787 airplane — each piece is manufactured as a continuous unit. Therefore, manufacturing large structures, such as airplane wings, requires large factories where fibers and resins can be wound and parts heat-cured as a whole, minimizing the number of separate pieces that must be joined in final assembly. That requirement meant, for example, Boeing’s suppliers have had to build enormous facilities to make parts for the 787.

 

Pound for pound, the new technique allows much less material to carry a given load. This could not only reduce the weight of vehicles, for example — which could significantly lower fuel use and operating costs — but also reduce the costs of construction and assembly, while allowing greater design flexibility. The system is useful for “anything you need to move, or put in the air or in space,” says Cheung, who will begin work this fall as an engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center. 

 

The concept, Gershenfeld says, arose in response to the question, “Can you 3-D print an airplane?” While he and Cheung realized that 3-D printing was an impractical approach at such a large scale, they wondered if it might be possible instead to use the discrete “digital” materials that they were studying.

“This satisfies the spirit of the question,” Gershenfeld says, “but it’s assembled rather than printed.” The team is now developing an assembler robot that can crawl, insectlike, over the surface of a growing structure, adding pieces one by one to the existing structure.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Ruth Obadia's curator insight, August 17, 2013 1:51 PM

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy.

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New Horizons brings Pluto's mysterious moons into sharper focus

New Horizons brings Pluto's mysterious moons into sharper focus | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
What can the data from New Horizons tell us about the dwarf planet's five moons?
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IBM Solar Collector Magnifies Sun By 2000X – These Could Provide Power To The Entire Planet | The Unbounded Spirit

IBM Solar Collector Magnifies Sun By 2000X – These Could Provide Power To The Entire Planet | The Unbounded Spirit | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

A team at IBM recently developed what they call a High Concentration Photo Voltaic Thermal (HCPVT) system that is capable of concentrating the power of 2,000 suns, they are even claiming to be able to concentrate energy safely up to 5,000X, that’s huge !

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How 3D Printing Creates On-Demand Swarms of Disposable Drones

How 3D Printing Creates On-Demand Swarms of Disposable Drones | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

New advances in 3D printing are making it not only possible but also viable to manufacture cheap, print-on-demand, disposable drones designed simply to soar off over the horizon and never come back. Some British engineers did just that, and this is only the beginning. The team hails from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Center (AMRC) at the University of Sheffield, where they're exploring innovative ways to 3D-print complex designs. They built their disposable drone, a five-foot-wide guy made of just nine parts that looks like a tiny stealth bomber, using a technique called fused deposition modeling. This additive manufacturing technique has been around since the 1980s but has recently become faster and cheaper thanks to improved design processes.

 

The ultimate vision, as sUAS describes it, is for "cheap and potentially disposable UAVs that could be built and deployed in remote situations potentially within as little as 24 hours." Forward-operating teams equipped with 3D printers could thus generate their own semi-autonomous micro air force squadrons or airborne surveillance swarms, a kind of first-strike desktop printing team hurling disposable drones into the sky.

 

For now, the AMRC team's drone works well as a glider, and they're working on a twin ducted fan propulsion system. It will eventually get an autonomous operation system powered by GPS as well as on-board data logging of flight parameters. Presumably, someone will want to stick a camera on there, too. If they're successful at building these things cheaply enough, it will be a green flag for the rest of the industry to take a hard look at their designs and see if they can make a disposable drone, too.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Eli Levine's curator insight, April 4, 2014 10:36 PM

This is going to get ugly.

 

The arms race between the people and the government is just beginning. 

 

Cause, I can think of all sorts of mayhem that can be raised with this technology, all of it spontaneously generated from the conditions in which people are living, caused primarily by our elite factions, public and private alike.

 

You SURE you want to be holding those reigns of "power" when they come for you?

 

Think about it.

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Evolution inspires more efficient solar cell design: Geometric pattern maximizes time light is trapped in solar cell

Evolution inspires more efficient solar cell design: Geometric pattern maximizes time light is trapped in solar cell | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

The sun's energy is virtually limitless, but harnessing its electricity with today's single-crystal silicon solar cells is extremely expensive—10 times pricier than coal, according to some estimates. Organic solar cells—polymer solar cells that use organic materials to absorb light and convert it into electricity—could be a solution, but current designs suffer because polymers have less-than-optimal electrical properties. Ads by Google San Diego Solar Panels - USA-Made Solar Panels For $0 Down. High Efficiency. Low Cost. Save Now -

 

Researchers at Northwestern University have now developed a new design for organic solar cells that could lead to more efficient, less expensive solar power. Instead of attempting to increase efficiency by altering the thickness of the solar cell's polymer layer—a tactic that has preciously garnered mixed results—the researchers sought to design the geometric pattern of the scattering layer to maximize the amount of time light remained trapped within the cell. Using a mathematical search algorithm based on natural evolution, the researchers pinpointed a specific geometrical pattern that is optimal for capturing and holding light in thin-cell organic solar cells. The resulting design exhibited a three-fold increase over the Yablonovitch Limit, a thermodynamic limit developed in the 1980s that statistically describes how long a photon can be trapped in a semiconductor.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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WIRED Space Photo of the Day: Pandora's Cluster

WIRED Space Photo of the Day: Pandora's Cluster | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
A team of scientists studying the galaxy cluster Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora's Cluster, have pieced together the cluster's complex and violent history using telescopes in space and on the ground, including the Hubble Space Telescope, the European...

Via Thomas Faltin
Angela Brady, Teacher Librarian's insight:

Excellent gallery of space photos on this site !

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Fusion milestone passed at US lab

Fusion milestone passed at US lab | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
Researchers at a US lab have passed a crucial milestone on the way to their ultimate goal of achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion.
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Hawking: all we need to know - physics-math - 20 September 2013 - New Scientist

Hawking: all we need to know - physics-math - 20 September 2013 - New Scientist | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
It may be impossible to ever really know Stephen Hawking, but what we do know is enough
Angela Brady, Teacher Librarian's insight:

One of the most brilliant scientists of our time !

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What direction does Earth's center spin? New insights solve 300-year-old problem

What direction does Earth's center spin? New insights solve 300-year-old problem | HSC Physics | Scoop.it

Earth's inner core, made up of solid iron, 'superrotates' in an eastward direction -- meaning it spins faster than the rest of the planet -- while the outer core, comprising mainly molten iron, spins westwards at a slower pace.

 

Although Edmund Halley -- who also discovered the famous comet -- showed the westward-drifting motion of Earth's geomagnetic field in 1692, it is the first time that scientists have been able to link the way the inner core spins to the behavior of the outer core. The planet behaves in this way because it is responding to Earth's geomagnetic field.

 

The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, help scientists to interpret the dynamics of the core of Earth, the source of our planet's magnetic field.

 

In the last few decades, seismometers measuring earthquakes travelling through Earth's core have identified an eastwards, or superrotation of the solid inner core, relative to Earth's surface.

 

"The link is simply explained in terms of equal and opposite action," explains Dr Philip Livermore, of the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds. "The magnetic field pushes eastwards on the inner core, causing it to spin faster than Earth, but it also pushes in the opposite direction in the liquid outer core, which creates a westward motion."

 

The solid iron inner core is about the size of the Moon. It is surrounded by the liquid outer core, an iron alloy, whose convection-driven movement generates the geomagnetic field.

 

The fact that Earth's internal magnetic field changes slowly, over a timescale of decades, means that the electromagnetic force responsible for pushing the inner and outer cores will itself change over time. This may explain fluctuations in the predominantly eastwards rotation of the inner core, a phenomenon reported for the last 50 years by Tkalčić et al. in a recent study published in Nature Geoscience.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Jordan Meyer's curator insight, October 3, 2013 11:55 PM

We have found out that the inner core of earth roates eastwards. The magentic field pushes eastwards on the inner core, causing it to spin faster than Earth, but it also pushes in the opposite direction in the liquid outer core, which creates westward motion. This is the resoning for many earthquakes and if we can keep ahead in knowledge about how the earth is moving we will have a better idea of when these natural disasters will happen. Hopefully being able to prevent less loss of money for the country. 

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How far is a light-year? | EarthSky.org

How far is a light-year? | EarthSky.org | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
Light is the fastest-moving stuff in the universe. It travels at an incredible 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles) per second. So, in a year, light travels far.
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Gravity variations much bigger than previously thought

A joint Australian-German research team led by Curtin University’s Dr Christian Hirt has created the highest-resolution maps of Earth’s gravity field to date – showing gravitational variations up to 40 per cent larger than previously assumed.


Via Michele Diodati
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Most powerful magnetic field in universe that is 40 trillion times stronger than Earth's

Most powerful magnetic field in universe that is 40 trillion times stronger than Earth's | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
The strongest magnetic field in the universe has potentially been discovered – a dead star that packs the equivalent mass of our sun into an area just 12 miles across.

 

The former star, which has the catchy name SGR 0418+5729, is 6,500 light years from Earth and was initially thought to have an unusually low magnetic field. New observations using the European Space Agency’s XMM Newton Space Telescope have, however, revealed that it may be the strongest magnetic source in the known universe.

 

Astronomers calculated that SGR 0418 must have a magnetic field of more than 1 quadrillion, or 1,000 trillion, gauss, the unit used to measure the strength of a magnetic field. By comparison, the iron core of the Earth is thought to have a magnetic field of 25 gauss.

 

Physicists have estimated that the upper limit for a magnetar would be 100 quadrillion gauss, but none have been found to be this powerful yet.

 

“To explain our observations, this magnetar must have a super-strong, twisted magnetic field reaching 10E15 Gauss across small regions on the surface, spanning only a few hundred meters across,” said Dr Tiengo.

 

“On average, the field can appear fairly weak, as earlier results have suggested. But we are now able to probe substructure on the surface and see that the field is very strong locally.”

 

The researchers, whose findings are published in the journal Nature, now hope the new technique may help them discover other hidden magnetars and may help reveal more about those that have already been identified.

 

Norbert Schartel, ESA’s XMM-Newton project scientist, said: “The spectral data provided by XMM-Newton, combined with a new way of analysing the data, allowed us to finally make the first detailed measurements of the magnetic field of a magnetar, confirming it as one of the largest values ever measured in the universe."

 

“We now have a new tool to probe the magnetic fields of other magnetars, which will help constrain models of these exotic objects.”


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Peter Phillips's curator insight, August 19, 2013 5:58 PM

Science geek food - pure. Waiting to hear more about this one.

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Newly discovered pulsar may explain odd behavior of Milky Way's supermassive black hole in center

Newly discovered pulsar may explain odd behavior of Milky Way's supermassive black hole in center | HSC Physics | Scoop.it
A strange type of star never before found near the Milky Way’s center is providing new clues about the bizarre behavior of the supermassive black hole lurking at the heart of our galaxy.

 

The black hole, known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A* for short), is as massive as 4 million suns and is thought to have played a critical role in shaping the Milky Way. Yet it somehow devours only a tiny fraction of its available food supply—a smorgasbord of gas and dust cast off by nearby stars, notes radio astronomer Heino Falcke of Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands.

 

That’s a puzzle astronomers have been trying to solve for years. Observations of an elderly, rapidly rotating star known as a pulsar in the vicinity of Sgr A* have now provided the first sensitive measure of the magnetic field associated with the black hole. The strength of that field may help account for Sgr A*’s poor eating habits, Falcke and his colleagues report online today in Nature.

 

Pulsars reveal the magnetic field in neighboring reaches of space because they typically emit polarized light—radio waves that vibrate in a particular plane as they travel through space. When the waves pass through a magnetized region, the polarization changes direction in proportion to the strength of the local magnetic field.

 

Using Effelsberg and several other radio telescopes to measure the polarization of the pulsar, the team found that the magnetic field near the star is at least 2.6 milligauss. Although that’s only about 2% of the magnetic field at the surface of Earth, it’s still surprisingly large, Falcke says. Moreover, much closer to the black hole, the field could be as great as several hundred gauss, the team estimates.

 

“We always knew the magnetic field was important but we never quite knew how strong to dial it in in our models,” says theoretical astrophysicist Christopher Reynolds of the University of Maryland, College Park, who was not part of the study. Gas and dust pulled close to a black hole resists falling directly into the gravitational maw because it possesses rotational energy, or angular momentum—the same reason that Earth doesn’t fall directly into the sun. Small magnetic fields generate a kind of turbulent friction that robs the gas and dust of some of its angular momentum, facilitating its infall. But according to some models, larger magnetic fields, comparable to that estimated in the new study, may act in the opposite fashion, suppressing the infall of material and potentially placing a black hole on a starvation diet, Reynolds says.

 

Every large galaxy is believed to house a supermassive black hole, and the masses of the galaxy and the central black hole grow in lockstep, numerous observations have shown. Gaining a better understanding of how much mass black holes accrete may therefore provide new insight on how galaxies pack on the pounds, astronomers note.

 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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