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black holes

  1. Scientists Know How Black Holes Pass Gas at Super High Speeds, Eating Beans Finally Ruled Out

    So they've discovered the super burrito, then?

    Supermassive black holes are the enormous, hungry gravitational centers of our galaxies, but eating all of that matter leaves them a little gassy. So gassy, in fact, that they eject streams of molecular hydrogen (two hydrogen molecules bound together) at speeds of 1 million kilometers per hour. Much like farting is a normal part of your body's healthy function, so the gas passed by black holes is important to galaxy evolution, and now scientists know how they work.

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  2. Is It Possible for Light to Orbit a Black Hole?

    Why don't we just fly to a black hole and check?

    Isaac Newton did a thought experiment that was demonstrated in the last episode of Cosmos. If you fire a cannon, gravity pulls the ball to the Earth. If you can fire the ball with enough energy, it would orbit the Earth instead of falling. What if you replace the Earth with a black hole and the cannonball with light? Will it orbit?

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  3. Radio Galaxy Zoo Allows Anyone To Search for Black Holes On Their Computer

    Because space is really, vastly, mind-bogglingly big.

    Man, what did people do on long bus rides before crowdsourced science projects were a thing? Just sit on their hands and wonder about all the science they could be doing? If you've got an Internet connection and a laptop, though, then you can make your science exploration dreams a reality with Radio Galaxy Zoo.

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  4. Mysterious Flashes on Radio Telescopes Might Be Waves From Massive Stars Collapsing Into Black Holes

    Sure, that's just what the aliens want you to think.

    Radio telescopes have been picking up some unusual flashes in the sky that appear for just moments without repeating, and scientists haven't been able to figure out why. This is pretty worrisome, because unusual changes in radio signals from space is basically how every alien invasion movie ever made begins. Don't start welcoming our future overlords yet, though -- according to an article in this week's issue of Science, these flashes might be the final farewell greetings of a supramassive neutron star collapsing into a black hole. Weirdly, it's kind of nice to know that even dying stars do not go gently into that good night. Well, that and it's a huge relief that it's not invading aliens. I mean, that we know of yet.

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  5. Ultramassive Black Holes Are Bigger, More Numerous, More Terrifying Than Previously Thought

    Frak

    Black holes. They destroy everything that crosses their path. They're difficult for scientists to observe and understand. They can fling people and objects back in time, starting an alternate timeline that results in the destruction of an entire species. Wait, no, that's the setup for Star Trek. But black holes are still really scary. And now scientists have discovered that the largest black holes in the universe are even scarier than previously thought.

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  6. NASA WISE Mission Finds Millions of New Black Holes, 1,000 Superhot Galaxies For Good Measure

    NASA was teasing some big news about black holes yesterday, and this afternoon, we know what that is. The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope has found millions of black holes dotting the universe, as well as more than 1,000 of the brightest galaxies ever observed, which have gone unobserved until now because they are shrouded with dust that has hidden them from view. This despite the galaxies in question being as much as 100 trillion times brighter than our Sun.

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  7. NASA May Have Found the Smallest Known Black Hole

    Using data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, an international team of astronomers has identified what could be the smallest known black hole. The astronomers found what is considered a black hole "heartbeat," a type of X-ray pattern, named as such due to its resemblance to an electrocardiogram. The binary system where the black hole was found, named IGR J17091-3624, consists of a normal star and a black hole that weighs less than three times the mass of our sun, which just so happens to be near what is thought to be the boundary where black holes are even possible.

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  8. Astronomers Detect Supermassive Black Holes Larger Than Any Yet Seen

    In addition to being terrifying celestial holes from which not even light can escape, scientists believe that the incredible gravity exerted by black holes has played a foundational role in the creation of galaxies. That theory might get refined even further, now that astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley have discovered the largest black holes ever detected. These monsters are billions of times larger than our sun, and more than three times larger than the previous record holder.

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  9. Scientists Use Hubble to Make First Ever Direct Observation of Disc Around Black Hole

    As is common knowledge, black holes cannot be seen since their intense gravity prevents even light from escaping. However, such cataclysmic objects can not go entirely unnoticed. Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have observed the disc of spinning dust and gas surrounding a black hole called a quasar accretion disc through a process called gravitational lensing. This is the first time astronomers have been able to observe and measure the properties of a quasar directly. In the  image above, the quasar is the smeary spot above the bright galaxy in the foreground. As amazing as this accomplishment is, the process scientists used to make it are equally staggering.

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  10. Scientists: Some Black Holes Could Be Older Than the Big Bang

    Those of us in the general public like to think of the Big Bang as the beginning of everything; in the beginning, there was nothing, then there was the Big Bang. But new theories of the Universe's creation suggest that not only is this not the case, and might suggest that a special class of black holes in this Universe are actually older than the Big Bang. I'll give you a minute to take that in.

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