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Analysis and Comment (14)

Gemini North observatory, on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, shoots a laser beam into the night sky to create an ‘artificial star’, part of a process that helps astronomers remove blurring from any images of galaxies. Gemini North observatory, on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, shoots a laser beam into the night sky to create an ‘artificial star’, part of a process that helps astronomers remove blurring from any images of galaxies. Gemini Observatory and Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

Laser helps find supermassive black hole in a small galaxy

A supermassive black hole has been found in an ultracompact dwarf galaxy – the smallest galaxy known to contain such a massive black hole. This finding, published today in Nature, suggests that supermassive…
Scary but fascinating. Scary but fascinating. NASA and M. Weiss (Chandra X -ray Center)

From black holes to dark matter, an astrophysicist explains

Katherine Mack, astrophysicist at the University of Melbourne, answered questions posed by the public on Reddit. The Conversation has curated the highlights. Dark Matter How do you explain dark matter…
Artist’s impression of a microquasar, such as the newly-discovered MQ1 in the M83 galaxy. Artist’s impression of a microquasar, such as the newly-discovered MQ1 in the M83 galaxy. TD Russell (ICRAR-Curtin) using the BINSIM visualisation code by R Hynes (LSU)

Pocket rocket of the universe: a new ‘fast and furious’ black hole

A black hole with extremely powerful jets has been found in the nearby galaxy Messier 83 (M83) by a team of Australian and American researchers, as we report in the journal Science today. Black holes are…
Stephen Hawking stirs the debate on black holes. But is he right? Stephen Hawking stirs the debate on black holes. But is he right? Flickr/NASA HQ PHOTO

Grey is the new black hole: is Stephen Hawking right?

Over the past few days, the media has cried out the recent proclamation from Stephen Hawking that black holes, a mystery of both science and science fiction, do not exist. Such statements send social media…
We’ve known about the energetic jets that spew matter from black holes for nearly a century, but what are they made of? We’ve known about the energetic jets that spew matter from black holes for nearly a century, but what are they made of? NASA

Cosmic jets: what’s shooting out of black holes?

While we tend to think of black holes as giant cosmic vacuum cleaners, it’s not all one-way travel. As gas falls in towards a black hole, it spirals gradually inwards like water going down a plug hole…
New research shows supermassive black holes are bigger than the sum of their parts. New research shows supermassive black holes are bigger than the sum of their parts. NASA/CXC/A.Hobart

When galaxies collide: the growth of supermassive black holes

Galaxies may look pretty and delicate, with their swirls of stars of many colours - but don’t be fooled. At the heart of every galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, including in our own Milky Way. Black…
How is the spin of black holes measured, and what can it tell us about our universe? How is the spin of black holes measured, and what can it tell us about our universe? NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Cutting through the spin on supermassive black holes

Astronomers have measured the spin of a black hole buried in the heart of a galaxy located 56 million light years away, and discovered it was spinning quickly – about as quickly as it could go. That was…
The black hole at the centre of NGC 1277 galaxy is one of the largest ever discovered. The black hole at the centre of NGC 1277 galaxy is one of the largest ever discovered. NASA /ESA/Andrew C. Fabian/Remco C. E. van den Bosch (MPIA)

‘Overmassive’ black hole holds the mass of 17 billion suns

Astronomers have discovered a new, enormous black hole that could change our understanding of how galaxies evolve. Holding the mass of 17 billion suns, the black hole at the centre of the NGC 1277 galaxy…
A simulated Black Hole of ten solar masses as seen from a distance of 600km with the Milky Way in the background. A simulated Black Hole of ten solar masses as seen from a distance of 600km with the Milky Way in the background. Ute Kraus/Wikimedia

Explainer: black holes

The concept of a “black hole” is one of the most curious in astrophysics. It’s the answer to the question: “What happens if the density of matter in a region becomes so high that not even light can escape…
The Big Bang theory and the existence of God are ideas often grappled with when thinking about how the universe was created. The Big Bang theory and the existence of God are ideas often grappled with when thinking about how the universe was created. DamienHR

The origin of the universe: is there a role for God?

Last week’s Global Atheist Convention and debates between prominent atheists and theologians in the Australian media has seen arguments about the existence of God getting a thorough airing. In my view…
Two “new” black holes, in relatively nearby galaxies, are the largest ever found. Two “new” black holes, in relatively nearby galaxies, are the largest ever found. tsand

Scary monsters (and supermassive black holes)

Black holes have long been the staple of science fiction, being monstrous beasts with a gravitational pull that prevents even light from escaping. As well as being useful plot devices, offering mechanisms…
“Infinite” is where we get to when we reach the limits of our understanding. “Infinite” is where we get to when we reach the limits of our understanding. truly0utrageous

Black holes might exist, but let’s stay sceptical

Peruse the astrophysical literature and you could be forgiven for thinking black holes exist. But do they really? What makes a black hole special is its event horizon: a no-return gateway to an unknowable…
Most galaxies – including ours – host a hungry monster. Most galaxies – including ours – host a hungry monster. allthecolours

Black hole noms: planetary treats for the galactic monster

What do black holes eat? And do supermassive black holes have fiercer appetites? Let’s remind ourselves of the facts. Lurking at the centre of the Milky Way is a monster, a giant black hole with a mass…
When a black hole devours a nearby star, bright gamma-ray flashes can result. When a black hole devours a nearby star, bright gamma-ray flashes can result. Mark Garlick (University of Warwick)

Death of a star: how radio waves can capture a cosmic obituary

Some 3.8 billion years ago a star in the constellation of Draco wandered a little too close to a nearby black hole. The star was violently torn apart by the black hole’s tidal forces, creating two massive…

Research and News (4)

Research Briefs (8)

Black hole jets revealed

The innermost parts of a black hole’s active jets have been revealed for the first time. The observation, by NASA scientists…