The last person anyone would expect to show up in a TV ad is the legendary Stephen Hawking, one of the leading thinkers in theoretical physicists.
Astronomers have found something more interesting at the center of our Milky Way galaxy than just a black hole: a star orbiting that black hole at the record-breaking speed of 3,100 miles per second. It takes less than twelve years to make one full orbit, but its speed isn't its only scientifically interesting aspect.
The WISE space-based infrared survey telescope has completed two surveys of the sky in the infrared, revealing millions of new supermassive (and ravenous) black holes called quasars. And we weren't exactly looking for Hot DOGs out there, but we found a bunch of 'em anyway.
To say that the newly discovered Phoenix Cluster of galaxies is "big" would be an understatement. In its entirety, the Phoenix Cluster is estimated to weigh twenty-five hundred thousand million times more than our sun, with a black hole at the center that's eating a sun a week, and Phoenix is pumping out baby stars like nobody's business.
This just in: stars scream when a black hole eats them. You'd scream too, I bet, but you'd be in space, so nobody would hear you. Except, apparently, these astronomers from the University of Michigan, who have managed to measure the noise made by a star being swallowed by a black hole in a galaxy 3.9 billion light years away.
Scientists believe that super massive black holes lie at the center of most galaxies, and our own Milky Way doesn't seem to be any different. As it turns out, our black hole even has a name: Sagittarius A* (or Sgr A* for short; that last bit is pronounced "A-star"). And it might treat us to an unparalleled showcase of mass destruction over the next year.
Astronomers have captured images of a black hole shooting two "bullets" of ionized gas travelling at nearly a quarter the speed of light. The explosion is so powerful it produces as much energy in one hour as the sun emits in five years.
All black holes have several things in common: besides being black, and holes, they're all insatiably hungry, all the time. The more you feed them, the bigger and hungrier they get. One particular monster at the center of our galaxy is about to scarf down a big gas cloud, and for the first time, we're going to be watching it happen.
You've heard of black holes: those rips in spacetime that suck up matter into oblivion. Now scientists are proposing that we've seen evidence for the opposite of black holes, or white holes, which spew out matter into our universe instead.
Out in what's known as the Virgo A galaxy is a black hole that's six billion times larger than our sun. That makes it a pretty good target for astronomers, who used the Chandra X-ray telescope and the Very Large Array to check the black hole out.