Black hole news: Scientists unravel mystery of light speed jet streams

Black hole: Experts discuss ‘outlandish’ theories

Supermassive black holes which lie at the centres of galaxies are some of the biggest entities in the Universe. Their size can reach up to 10 million masses of the Sun, and their gravitational pull keeps galaxies in check. They also produce gigantic, super-heated plasma jets which shoot out at almost the speed of light.

These jets discharge powerful motion energy which is converted into extremely high-energy gamma rays.

However, it has been somewhat of a mystery to astronomers as to how this radiation is created and where it comes into fruition.

Previous research had argued the jets discharge either in the broad-line region of a black hole – which is 0.3 light-years from its centre – or in the molecular torus, which is three light-years away from its centre.

Now, new research which analysed the jet motion from 62 supermassive black holes has shed light on the discovery.

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The research conducted by scientists at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) found the jets discharge their energy in the broad-line region.

UMBC physics PhD candidate Adam Leah Harvey said: “The implications are extremely important for our understanding of jets launched by black holes.

“It indicates that the jet is not accelerated enough at smaller scales to start to dissipate energy.”

To gain their understanding, the team looked at a quantity called the “speed factor”.

The speed factor indicates where light waves that the jet converts to gamma rays come from.

A UMBC statement said: “They found that the seed factors fell in a normal distribution aligned almost perfectly around the expected value for the molecular torus.

“That result strongly suggests that the energy from the jet is discharging into light waves in the molecular torus, and not in the broad-line region.”

Black holes are tears in the fabric of space and time which have been ripped by the collapse of a giant star.

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The gravitational pull of these entities is so strong not even light – which is the fastest thing in the entire Universe – can escape.

They completely break the laws of physics with their singularity at the centre, which is a one-dimensional point where gravity becomes infinite and space and time become curved.

The only other point in nature where a singularity existed is at the Big Bang.

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