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The magnetism of black holes surprisingly weak

An illustration of a black hole. Credit: Michael McAleer / UF News

Black holes are famous for their muscles: an intense gravitational attraction known for swallowing entire stars and launching currents of matter into space at almost the speed of light.

It turns out that reality may not be up to the point of exaggeration.

In a document published today in the journal Science scientists at the University of Florida have discovered that these tears in the fabric of the universe have significantly weaker magnetic fields than previously thought.

A black hole 40 miles wide 8,000 light years from Earth called V404 Cygni produced the first accurate measurements of the magnetic field surrounding the deepest gravity wells in the universe. The authors of the study found that the magnetic energy around the black hole is approximately 400 times lower than the previous crude estimates.

The measurements bring scientists closer to understanding the functioning of the magnetism of black holes, deepening our understanding of how matter behaves under the most extreme conditions. knowledge that could expand the limits of nuclear fusion power and GPS systems.

The measurements will also help scientists solve the mystery of half a century ago of how "jets" of particles traveling at almost the speed of light shoot out of black holes "magnetic fields, while everything else it is absorbed in its abysses, "said study co-author Stephen Eikenberry, professor of astronomy at the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"The question is, how do you do that?" Eikenberry said. "Our surprisingly low measurements will force new restrictions on theoretical models that previously focused on intense magnetic fields that accelerate and direct the jet streams, we did not expect this, so it changes a lot of what we thought we knew."

Authors of the study developed the measurements from the data collected in 2015 during the burst of jets from a black hole. The event was observed through the mirror of the 34-foot Canary Telescope, the largest telescope in the world, co-owned by UF and located in the Canary Islands, with the help of its infrared camera built with UF called CIRCE (Infrared Camera Canarias Experimento ).

The smaller black jet holes, like the one observed for the study, are the stars of the galaxies. His outbursts occur suddenly and are ephemeral, said study lead author Yigit Dalilar and co-author Alan Garner, doctoral students in the UF's department of astronomy. The 2015 blasts of V404 Cygni lasted only a couple of weeks. The previous time that the same black hole had a similar episode was in 1989.

"Observing it was something that happens once or twice in the race," Dalilar said. "This discovery puts us one step closer to understanding how the universe works."

Explore more:
Scientists penetrate the mystery of the furious rays of black holes

More information:
Y. Dallilar al., "An accurate measurement of the magnetic field in the binary black hole corona V404 Cygni", Science (2017). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126 / science.aan0249

Journal reference:

Provided by:
University of Florida

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