Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

9/27/2013 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Black hole periodically flares up with activity as it consumes stars and clouds of dust.

Scientists have figured out why the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy is so "quiet." It hasn't had anything to eat.

A supermassive black holen like the one in this artist's rendition resides at the heart of our galaxy.

A supermassive black holen like the one in this artist's rendition resides at the heart of our galaxy.

Article Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/27/2013 (6 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: black hole, supermassive, milky way


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy is fasting and hasn't had a big meal in the past two million years. Although that may seem dramatic, for a black hole, that is barely a space between snacks.

Black holes form when massive stars, many times the size of our Sun, fuse the hydrogen and other elements in their cores to the point that nuclear fusion can no longer occur. Without the exploding force of nuclear fusion, much of the matter in the star's core collapses inwards to a single point. The gravitational force becomes so great that no energy, not even light, can escape the overwhelming gravitational pull of the black hole.

Likewise, in the center of most galaxies, including our own, there reside supermassive black holes with masses hundreds of millions of times that of our Sun. How they formed is still unclear, but their effect is all the same. Anything that passes close enough gets ripped apart and falls towards the black hole. Some of the matter is consumed, and some of it is belched out in a cosmic blast at near-relativistic speeds.

The black hole at the center of our galaxy is four million times the mass of our Sun and just two million years ago was spewing jets of matter from its poles.

Supermassive black holes like the one depicted here can stream jets into space. These jets can spur

Supermassive black holes like the one depicted here can stream jets into space. These jets can spur the formation of new stars and even entire solar systems.


This spewing of matter by means of polar jets is common and it is one of the ways in which scientists can detect black holes. Although black holes emit no light, they can be detected by the spiraling gasses which are compressed and accelerated around them as they spiral into the black hole. Those gasses emit radiation such as x-rays and gamma rays that can be detected on Earth. Some of those gasses end up in the cosmic jets spewing away from each pole.

Astronomers say they have now clearly observed speeding gasses from the poles of our own black hole. Although the black hole isn't spewing jets now, it did two million years ago. Those gasses are still streaming above and below our galaxy and can be observed with the right equipment.

These jets are activated each time the black hole consumes matter. The galatic center is filled with a swirling mass of stars and dust, but many of these objects stay far enough away they aren't consumed by the black hole, they just orbit as a respectful distance. However, occasionally a star is perturbed by other stars or clouds of dust and gas fall inwards and end up in the death grip of the black hole.

When that happens with enough material, the black hole will "switch on" on its polar jets, ejecting some of the matter above and below.

Understanding that this phenomenon occurs right in our cosmic backyard will help astronomers understand black holes better. It is thought they play a central role in the formation of galaxies and possibly even life itself.

Click here to learn about our Saint Michael the Archangel conference this Nov 1-3!

---


Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



Comments


More Technology

IS THE SECOND COMING NIGH? Four blood moons this year all occur on Jewish holidays Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As climate change wreaks havoc worldwide, and relations between the U.S. and Russia reach a low point over Ukraine, some Christians say that the phenomenon of the "Blood moon" may mean that Christ's return is rapidly approaching. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Will Alibaba devour Facebook? China's massive Alibaba is coming to conquer the United States Watch

Image of Yahoo's dominance has since dwindled as Alibaba has since grown into a global powerhouse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ali Baba for those in the west usually means the storybook leader of a gang of fearless, 40 thieves. But this will soon change. A massive e-commerce site from China, Alibaba, with revenue larger than Amazon and eBay combined has decided to go public in the ... continue reading


Drone images reveal more about mysterious buried village in New Mexico Watch

Image of Drone images have captured fascinating new details about a buried Native American village in New Mexico.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Drone images have captured fascinating new details about a buried Native American village in New Mexico. Thermal images captured by the small drone allowed archaeologists to peer under the surface of the desert floor, revealing never-before-seen structures. LOS ... continue reading


New 'Star Wars' gun fires shells seven times the speed of sound through concrete -- 100 miles away Watch

Image of The rail gun will be mounted on high-speed vessel the USNS Millinocket for sea trials in 2016.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A futuristic lethal new weapon capable of firing a shell at seven times the speed of sound has since been successfully tested on land. Conjuring up images of iconic sci-fi villains as Darth Vader, researchers have called the new rail gun as being of 'Star Wars' ... continue reading


KETTLE CALLING THE POT BLACK? Internet search engines exhibiting double standards Watch

Image of An old cliche -- that bears repeating --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Certain cliché sayings come to mind: The kettle calling the pot black, having one's cake and eating it too . Google, along with Facebook and Yahoo have come down hard on the Obama administration for information gathering - but NOW don't want their ... continue reading


Scientists discover massive asteroid hit Earth so hard that oceans evaporated Watch

Image of Earth was struck several times by massive asteroids billions of years ago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Scientists from Stanford University say they have found evidence of another cataclysmic cosmic collision between Earth and another asteroid billions of years ago. This asteroid, they say, was so large it punched a hole in the Earth's crust and caused earthquakes around ... continue reading


Why is NASA rejecting definitive proof of life on Mars? Watch

Image of Curiosity recently captures this image that shows light on the ground on Mars. NASA thinks it's just a glint off rock or some other similar anomaly.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Curiosity rover has photographed what appears to be light emanating from the ground on Mars. UFO and alien life enthusiasts as well as conspiracy theorists have all claimed the light is evidence of life on the Red Planet. NASA however, is not so sure. LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


HANG ON TOTO! Astronomers calculate the speed of the Universe's expansion Watch

Image of Hang on! The universe is expanding at 1 percent per 44 million years, which is fast if you consider the size of the universe is at least 46 billion years in radius!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Hold on to your hat, Toto, we're about to leave Kansas. Astronomers say they have calculated the expansion rate of the universe and their discovery is very surprising. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Astronomers have long been interested in measuring the expansion ... continue reading


Universe, you really let me down: astronomers disappointed after observation doesn't fit model Watch

Image of Galaxy clusters such as these should be more common throughout the universe than they are.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Two professors say they are disappointed with the universe after learning that it is "smoother" and "flatter" than they expected. The compared the discovery to a trip to Switzerland that was switched for a trip to the Netherlands. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


Hello Enceladus! Forget Mars, here's where extraterrestrial life can be found in the solar system Watch

Image of Jets of water, rich in organic molecules spew over the icy surface of Enceladus.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers believe they have found proof that Saturn's icy moon Enceladus hosts a deep saltwater ocean. Scientists say that of such an ocean exists, it may be the most likely place in the solar system, rather than on Mars, to find life elsewhere besides Earth. LOS ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 61:1-3, 6, 8-9
1 The spirit of Lord Yahweh is on me for Yahweh has ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:21-22, 25, 27
21 My hand will always be with him, my arm will make ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:16-21
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, ... Read More

Reading 2, Revelation 1:5-8
5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 17th, 2014 Image

St. Anicetus
April 17: Anicetus was a Syrian from Emesa. He became pope about 155 and ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter