The Symmetry of Black Hole jets
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Black Hole Symmetry

A black hole occurs when matter is crushed below some limiting size called the Schwarzschild radius. An object's Schwarzschild Radius depends upon its mass; the Schwarzschild radius of the sun, for example, is only 3 kilometers (a factor of 200,000 times smaller than the sun's current size). Black Holes come in all masses - supermassive, stellar mass, intermediate mass, and maybe micro mass ones as well (though we've never seen any). They grow by accreting matter from our Universe - gas clouds, stars, planets, you name it. Generally material doesn't fall directly into the black hole, but will spiral into the hole, revolving faster and faster as it approaches the black hole's boundary, the event horizon. But before the final plunge, some material may escape from the hole, producing two jets of particles and radiation orthogonal to the disk of accreting material. Exactly how this happens is not precisely known, though this process seems to be generally associated with black hole accretion, regardless of how massive the black hole is. A new comparison of jets associated with stellar mass black holes and jets associated with supermassive black holes showed a surprising symmetry: the jets use similar fractions of the kinetic energies of the escaping particles to power the emission of powerful gamma rays and other forms of radiation.
Published: December 17, 2012

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Sunday, 23-Dec-2012 20:02:09 EST