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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. 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. 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? 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? 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. 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? 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 reflected light from black holes enables astronomers to see how fast matter is swirling in the inner region of the disk, and ultimately to measure the black hole’s spin rate. NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA puts new spin on black holes

Scientists in the US have successfully used a new NASA telescope to help improve our understanding of how black holes and…
Black holes have been growing faster than previously thought, the new research found. Gabriel Perez Diaz

Scientists pinpoint missing mid-sized black holes

Australian researchers have redefined the relationship between galaxies and their black holes, showing that a widely-accepted…
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…
The black hole, circled, sits in a star cluster 300 million light-years away. Sean Farrell

Scientists find evidence of first ‘middleweight’ black hole

Explosive outbursts of super-hot gas in a galaxy 300 million light-years away have provided evidence of the first known “middleweight…
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. 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…

Milky Way’s black hole devouring asteroids

X-ray flares from the supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way may be caused by the regular vaporisation of…

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