Black holes’ magnetism surprisingly wimpy

Intense X-ray flares thought to be caused by a black hole devouring a star [credit: NASA]

Who’s afraid of the big bad black hole now? Its imagined powers have been seriously overrated, according to new research. This poses unexpected problems for theorists.

Black holes are famous for their muscle: an intense gravitational pull known to gobble up entire stars and launch streams of matter into space at almost the speed of light, says Phys.org.

It turns out the reality may not live up to the hype.

In a paper published today in the journal Science, University of Florida scientists have discovered these tears in the fabric of the universe have significantly weaker magnetic fields than previously thought.

A 40-mile-wide black hole 8,000 light years from Earth named V404 Cygni yielded the first precise measurements of the magnetic field that surrounds the deepest wells of gravity in the universe.

Study authors found the magnetic energy around the black hole is about 400 times lower than previous crude estimates.

The measurements bring scientists closer to understanding how black holes’ magnetism works, deepening our knowledge of how matter behaves under the most extreme conditions—knowledge that could broaden the limits of nuclear fusion power and GPS systems.

The measurements also will help scientists solve the half-century-old mystery of how “jets” of particles traveling at nearly the speed of light shoot out of black holes’ magnetic fields, while everything else is sucked into their abysses, said study co-author Stephen Eikenberry, a professor of astronomy in UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“The question is, how do you do that?” Eikenberry said. “Our surprisingly low measurements will force new constraints on theoretical models that previously focused on strong magnetic fields accelerating and directing the jet flows. We weren’t expecting this, so it changes much of what we thought we knew.”

Continued here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

http://ift.tt/2BKmmNd

December 7, 2017 at 02:12PM

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