Detection of matter falling into blackhole at 30% of lightspeed

Researchers report the first detection of matter falling into a black hole at 30% of the speed of light, located in the center of the billion-light year distant galaxy PG211+143.

Black holes are so compact that gas is almost always rotating too much to fall in directly. Instead it orbits the hole, approaching gradually through an accretion disc – a sequence of circular orbits of decreasing size. As gas spirals inwards, it moves faster and faster and becomes hot and luminous, turning gravitational energy into the radiation that astronomers observe.

Until now it has been unclear how misaligned rotation might affect the in-fall of gas. This is particularly relevant to the feeding of supermassive black holes since matter (interstellar gas clouds or even isolated stars) can fall in from any direction.

Researchers found the spectra to be strongly red-shifted, showing the observed matter to be falling into the black hole at the enormous speed of 30 per cent of the speed of light, or around 100,000 kilometres per second. The gas has almost no rotation around the hole, and is detected extremely close to it in astronomical terms, at a distance of only 20 times the hole’s size (its event horizon, the boundary of the region where escape is no longer possible).

The galaxy we were observing with XMM-Newton has a 40 million solar mass black hole which is very bright and evidently well fed. Indeed some 15 years ago we detected a powerful wind indicating the hole was being over-fed.

Arxiv – An ultra-fast inflow in the luminous Seyfert PG1211+143

25 thoughts on “Detection of matter falling into blackhole at 30% of lightspeed”

  1. There are very specific absorption and emission lines depending on the gas’ composition. By measuring the spectrum of much less mobile gas clouds, we know that interstellar gas is primarily hydrogen and helium. We also know the spectra of less common interstellar gases, such as oxygen. So we can measure the spectrum, and compare the position of these absorption lines to non-shifted spectra, which are well known.

    Reply
  2. There are very specific absorption and emission lines depending on the gas’ composition. By measuring the spectrum of much less mobile gas clouds we know that interstellar gas is primarily hydrogen and helium. We also know the spectra of less common interstellar gases such as oxygen. So we can measure the spectrum and compare the position of these absorption lines to non-shifted spectra which are well known.

    Reply
  3. Gas and other chemical spectra have been measured in labs for decades, and can be measured in a variety of temperatures, pressures, ionization levels, etc. They are determined by the molecular and electronic structure and by quantum mechanics, and are characteristic for each molecule/atom. These are basic chemical analysis tools that are well understood. There’s nothing fundamentally different about measuring the spectrum of gas many lightyears (or billions of lightyears) away. It’s a simple optical technique. The main assumption is that whatever’s going on near a black hole doesn’t affect the fundamental quantum interactions that determine these spectra. There’s no reason that it should – the interaction scale that determines the spectra is far far smaller than the scale of the accretion disk, and we’re talking well outside the event horizon.

    Reply
  4. Gas and other chemical spectra have been measured in labs for decades and can be measured in a variety of temperatures pressures ionization levels etc. They are determined by the molecular and electronic structure and by quantum mechanics and are characteristic for each molecule/atom. These are basic chemical analysis tools that are well understood.There’s nothing fundamentally different about measuring the spectrum of gas many lightyears (or billions of lightyears) away. It’s a simple optical technique. The main assumption is that whatever’s going on near a black hole doesn’t affect the fundamental quantum interactions that determine these spectra. There’s no reason that it should – the interaction scale that determines the spectra is far far smaller than the scale of the accretion disk and we’re talking well outside the event horizon.

    Reply
  5. We have been fascinated by Stephen Hawking’s black holes for over a third of a century based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but eventually Hawking informed us they are not really black and there is no event horizon exactly. Everything from ‘black holes’ to dark energy and the accelerating universe is theorized using Einstein’s theory. Einstein claimed that the bending of light passing near the Sun, famously measured by Arthur Eddington during a solar eclipse, and also that the precession of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun were due to space-time deformation as characterized by his theory. In essence, he claimed that the explanation for the phenomena is that the geometry near massive objects is not Euclidean. Einstein said that “in the presence of a gravitational field, the geometry is not Euclidean.” But if that non-Euclidean geometry is self-contradicting, then Einstein’s explanation and his theory cannot be correct. How can it be correct if the title of the Facebook Note, “Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity Is Based on Self-contradicting Non-Euclidean Geometry,” is a true statement? Just check out the FB Note, at the link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/reid-barnes/einsteins-general-theory-of-relativity-is-based-on-self-contradicting-non-euclid/1676238042428763/

    Reply
  6. We have been fascinated by Stephen Hawking’s black holes for over a third of a century based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity but eventually Hawking informed us they are not really black and there is no event horizon exactly. Everything from ‘black holes’ to dark energy and the accelerating universe is theorized using Einstein’s theory. Einstein claimed that the bending of light passing near the Sun famously measured by Arthur Eddington during a solar eclipse and also that the precession of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun were due to space-time deformation as characterized by his theory. In essence he claimed that the explanation for the phenomena is that the geometry near massive objects is not Euclidean. Einstein said that “in the presence of a gravitational field the geometry is not Euclidean.” But if that non-Euclidean geometry is self-contradicting then Einstein’s explanation and his theory cannot be correct. How can it be correct if the title of the Facebook Note “Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity Is Based on Self-contradicting Non-Euclidean Geometry” is a true statement? Just check out the FB Note at the link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/reid-barnes/einsteins-general-theory-of-relativity-is-based-on-self-contradicting-non-euclid/1676238042428763/

    Reply
  7. We have been fascinated by Stephen Hawking’s black holes for over a third of a century based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but eventually Hawking informed us they are not really black and there is no event horizon exactly. Everything from ‘black holes’ to dark energy and the accelerating universe is theorized using Einstein’s theory. Einstein claimed that the bending of light passing near the Sun, famously measured by Arthur Eddington during a solar eclipse, and also that the precession of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun were due to space-time deformation as characterized by his theory. In essence, he claimed that the explanation for the phenomena is that the geometry near massive objects is not Euclidean. Einstein said that “in the presence of a gravitational field, the geometry is not Euclidean.” But if that non-Euclidean geometry is self-contradicting, then Einstein’s explanation and his theory cannot be correct. How can it be correct if the title of the Facebook Note, “Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity Is Based on Self-contradicting Non-Euclidean Geometry,” is a true statement? Just check out the FB Note, at the link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/reid-barnes/einsteins-general-theory-of-relativity-is-based-on-self-contradicting-non-euclid/1676238042428763/

    Reply
  8. We have been fascinated by Stephen Hawking’s black holes for over a third of a century based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity but eventually Hawking informed us they are not really black and there is no event horizon exactly. Everything from ‘black holes’ to dark energy and the accelerating universe is theorized using Einstein’s theory. Einstein claimed that the bending of light passing near the Sun famously measured by Arthur Eddington during a solar eclipse and also that the precession of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun were due to space-time deformation as characterized by his theory. In essence he claimed that the explanation for the phenomena is that the geometry near massive objects is not Euclidean. Einstein said that “in the presence of a gravitational field the geometry is not Euclidean.” But if that non-Euclidean geometry is self-contradicting then Einstein’s explanation and his theory cannot be correct. How can it be correct if the title of the Facebook Note “Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity Is Based on Self-contradicting Non-Euclidean Geometry” is a true statement? Just check out the FB Note at the link: https://www.facebook.com/notes/reid-barnes/einsteins-general-theory-of-relativity-is-based-on-self-contradicting-non-euclid/1676238042428763/

    Reply
  9. We have been fascinated by Stephen Hawking’s black holes for over a third of a century based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but eventually Hawking informed us they are not really black and there is no event horizon exactly. Everything from ‘black holes’ to dark energy and the accelerating universe is theorized using Einstein’s theory. Einstein claimed that the bending of light passing near the Sun, famously measured by Arthur Eddington during a solar eclipse, and also that the precession of the orbit of Mercury around the Sun were due to space-time deformation as characterized by his theory. In essence, he claimed that the explanation for the phenomena is that the geometry near massive objects is not Euclidean. Einstein said that “in the presence of a gravitational field, the geometry is not Euclidean.” But if that non-Euclidean geometry is self-contradicting, then Einstein’s explanation and his theory cannot be correct. How can it be correct if the title of the Facebook Note, “Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity Is Based on Self-contradicting Non-Euclidean Geometry,” is a true statement? Just check out the FB Note, at the link:
    https://www.facebook.com/notes/reid-barnes/einsteins-general-theory-of-relativity-is-based-on-self-contradicting-non-euclid/1676238042428763/

    Reply
  10. Gas and other chemical spectra have been measured in labs for decades, and can be measured in a variety of temperatures, pressures, ionization levels, etc. They are determined by the molecular and electronic structure and by quantum mechanics, and are characteristic for each molecule/atom. These are basic chemical analysis tools that are well understood. There’s nothing fundamentally different about measuring the spectrum of gas many lightyears (or billions of lightyears) away. It’s a simple optical technique. The main assumption is that whatever’s going on near a black hole doesn’t affect the fundamental quantum interactions that determine these spectra. There’s no reason that it should – the interaction scale that determines the spectra is far far smaller than the scale of the accretion disk, and we’re talking well outside the event horizon.

    Reply
  11. Gas and other chemical spectra have been measured in labs for decades and can be measured in a variety of temperatures pressures ionization levels etc. They are determined by the molecular and electronic structure and by quantum mechanics and are characteristic for each molecule/atom. These are basic chemical analysis tools that are well understood.There’s nothing fundamentally different about measuring the spectrum of gas many lightyears (or billions of lightyears) away. It’s a simple optical technique. The main assumption is that whatever’s going on near a black hole doesn’t affect the fundamental quantum interactions that determine these spectra. There’s no reason that it should – the interaction scale that determines the spectra is far far smaller than the scale of the accretion disk and we’re talking well outside the event horizon.

    Reply
  12. There are very specific absorption and emission lines depending on the gas’ composition. By measuring the spectrum of much less mobile gas clouds, we know that interstellar gas is primarily hydrogen and helium. We also know the spectra of less common interstellar gases, such as oxygen. So we can measure the spectrum, and compare the position of these absorption lines to non-shifted spectra, which are well known.

    Reply
  13. There are very specific absorption and emission lines depending on the gas’ composition. By measuring the spectrum of much less mobile gas clouds we know that interstellar gas is primarily hydrogen and helium. We also know the spectra of less common interstellar gases such as oxygen. So we can measure the spectrum and compare the position of these absorption lines to non-shifted spectra which are well known.

    Reply
  14. Gas and other chemical spectra have been measured in labs for decades, and can be measured in a variety of temperatures, pressures, ionization levels, etc. They are determined by the molecular and electronic structure and by quantum mechanics, and are characteristic for each molecule/atom. These are basic chemical analysis tools that are well understood.

    There’s nothing fundamentally different about measuring the spectrum of gas many lightyears (or billions of lightyears) away. It’s a simple optical technique. The main assumption is that whatever’s going on near a black hole doesn’t affect the fundamental quantum interactions that determine these spectra. There’s no reason that it should – the interaction scale that determines the spectra is far far smaller than the scale of the accretion disk, and we’re talking well outside the event horizon.

    Reply
  15. There are very specific absorption and emission lines depending on the gas’ composition. By measuring the spectrum of much less mobile gas clouds, we know that interstellar gas is primarily hydrogen and helium. We also know the spectra of less common interstellar gases, such as oxygen. So we can measure the spectrum, and compare the position of these absorption lines to non-shifted spectra, which are well known.

    Reply

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