Scientists from the University of Michigan have discovered something amazing in space. After analyzing satellite images, scientists have discovered the fastest measured winds to be observed from a stellar-mass black hole.
It's a surprise this small black hole is able to muster the wind speeds we typically only see in the giant black holes, said co-author Jon M. Miller. In other words, this black hole is performing well above its weight class.
The winds were clocked in at 20 million m.p.h., or 23 million kph, using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. However, that is only about 3 percent the speed of light, according to a NASA press release. These record-breaking winds will are ten times faster than anything researchers have seen from a stellar-mass black hole. The discovery will have important implications in understanding the cosmic object.
This is like the cosmic equivalent of winds from a category five hurricane, said Ashley King from the University of Michigan, lead author of the study published in the Feb. 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters, according to a NASA press release. . We weren't expecting to see such powerful winds from a black hole like this.
Black holes are formed after a star collapses. Stellar mass black holes weigh approximately 10 times more than the mass of the sun. This black hole, known as IGR J17091-3624, or IGR J17091 for short, which is driving the winds, is smaller than other black holes that have been able to generate such high winds. The stellar-mass black hole is approximately 28,000 light years away from the Earth.
Another finding is that the wind comes from a disk of gas surrounding the black hole. It is theorized that the winds could be carrying away more cosmic objects than the black hole is capturing, according to NASA.
Contrary to the popular perception of black holes pulling in all of the material that gets close, we estimate up to 95 percent of the matter in the disk around IGR J17091 is expelled by the wind, King said.
The winds emitted from the black hole blow in all directions, as opposed to winds from hurricanes on Earth.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Expanded Very Large Array in Arizona also showed that a radio jet was not present when the wind was seen. Radio jets are often seen other times. This observation provides evidence that intense winds can stifle radio jets from black holes, a major discovery for NASA researchers.