Stray black hole found hiding in the Milky Way

Tail of stray black hole hiding in the Milky Way


It is difficult to find black holes, because they are completely black. In some cases black holes cause effects which can be seen. For example if a black hole has a companion star, gas streaming into the black hole piles up around it and forms a disk. The disk heats up due to the enormous gravitational pull by the black hole and emits intense radiation. But if a black hole is floating alone in space, no emissions would be observable coming from it.

A research team led by Masaya Yamada, a graduate student at Keio University, Japan, and Tomoharu Oka, a professor at Keio University, used the ASTE Telescope in Chile and the 45-m Radio Telescope at Nobeyama Radio Observatory, both operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, to observe molecular clouds around the supernova remnant W44, located 10,000 light-years away from us. Their primary goal was to examine how much energy was transferred from the supernova explosion to the surrounding molecular gas, but they happened to find signs of a hidden black hole at the edge of W44.

During the survey, the team found a compact molecular cloud with enigmatic motion. This cloud, named the “Bullet,” has a speed of more than 100 km/s, which exceeds the speed of sound in interstellar space by more than two orders of magnitude. In addition, this cloud, with the size of two light-years, moves backward against the rotation of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The gas is dragged along by the strong gravity of the black hole to form a narrow gas stream. CREDIT Keio University

The gas is dragged along by the strong gravity of the black hole to form a narrow gas stream. CREDIT Keio University

To investigate the origin of the Bullet, the team performed intensive observations of the gas cloud with ASTE and the Nobeyama 45-m Radio Telescope. The data indicate that the Bullet seems to jump out from the edge of the W44 supernova remnant with immense kinetic energy. “Most of the Bullet has an expanding motion with a speed of 50 km/s, but the tip of the Bullet has a speed of 120 km/s,” said Yamada. “Its kinetic energy is a few tens of times larger than that injected by the W44 supernova. It seems impossible to generate such an energetic cloud under ordinary environments.”

The team proposed two scenarios for the formation of the Bullet. In both cases, a dark and compact gravity source, possibly a black hole, has an important role. One scenario is the “explosion model” in which an expanding gas shell of the supernova remnant passes by a static black hole. The black hole pulls the gas very close to it, giving rise to an explosion, which accelerates the gas toward us after the gas shell has passed the black hole. In this case, the astronomers estimated that the mass of the black hole would 3.5 times the solar mass or larger. The other scenario is the “irruption model” in which a high speed black hole storms through a dense gas and the gas is dragged along by the strong gravity of the black hole to form a gas stream. In this case, researchers estimated the mass of the black hole would be 36 times the solar mass or larger. With the present dataset, it is difficult for the team to distinguish which scenario is more likely.

Theoretical studies have predicted that 100 million to 1 billion black holes should exist in the Milky Way, although only 60 or so have been identified through observations to date. “We found a new way of discovering stray black holes,” said Oka. The team expects to disentangle the two possible scenarios and find more solid evidence for a black hole in the Bullet with higher resolution observations using a radio interferometer, such as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).


The paper:


126 thoughts on “Stray black hole found hiding in the Milky Way

  1. Nice to see researchers admit ignorance as to which scenario is more probable. Definitely not climate science:-)

    • more ignorance than they would like, maybe.

      …gas streaming into the black hole piles up around it and forms a disk.

      How can anything “pile up” while being accelerated by an extreme gravitational field. Sounds like more press release garbage written by “media studies” undergrads.

      • All planets are being accelerated by a strong gravitational field of the Sun. When an object does not fall directly towards the center of the gravity, it does orbit. Undergrad physics.

      • The Earth’s atmosphere is ‘piled up’ while being accelerated in a gravitational field. Gravity and acceleration are indistinguishable. What you need is a hard barrier at the bottom of the drop. In the case of black holes and neutron stars the barrier is formed by the highly compressed gas near the event horizon where the gas needs to lose its angular momentum in order to be able to fall any further. The theory is that a toroidal-like disc is formed, acting as that hard barrier, through which the gas then migrates to the inner boundary and from there falls into the singularity.

      • Just poor English. Probably not the words of the researchers; this is another press release, remember.

        Of course, gas streaming into the black hole doesn’t “pile up,” at least not where we will ever see it. Gas streaming “into the gravitational influence” of the black hole, though, frequently goes into orbit outside the event horizon – where it does “pile up” (become denser). When the black hole is orbiting around a good source of mass, like another star, this “pile” can eventually become dense enough, and hot enough, to initiate fusion. Which is quite spectacular, from a good distance.

      • It’s like too many people trying to get through a doorway. There’s nothing in the doorway stopping them except themselves and all the people rushing in behind them get slowed down and ‘pile up.’

      • Ed Z: Actually, gravity and acceleration ARE distinguishable. The field structure of acceleration (either longitudinal or centripetal) is qualitatively different from gravitation.

      • Ed Z: Actually, gravity and acceleration ARE distinguishable.

        The correctness statement is you can’t tell the difference between an accelerating elevator and and equivalent gravitational field.
        And if this case they are the same.

      • micro6500: There is no possibility of an “equivalent” gravitational field. A gravitational field is a conservative field, which means it has a 1/r^2 variation…which can be detected within the elevator car, if you have multiple accellerometers at the vertices of the car. Simple acceleration has a uniform field; it is the same everywhere in the car, even if it is time-varying (nonzero “jerk”).

        The equivalence principle is approximately akin to saying that a circular arc and a straight line are equivalent, but only near the point of tangency. The problem is that a circular arc will have nonzero curvature and a straight line will have zero curvature. Just because some parameters of a field can equal another field’s parameters, does not mean that the two fields are “equivalent.” An object traveling on the circular arc will experience acceleration; an object traveling on the line will not.

  2. Theoretical studies have predicted that 100 million to 1 billion black holes should exist in the Milky Way, although only 60 or so have been identified through observations to date.

    I know the galaxy is big and that black holes are dim but…
    That really seems like a big mismatch.

    Why is that?

    • Because in fact “black holes” do not exist. They are only a theoretical physics construct, explaining phenomena more cogently explained once one admits of galactic-scale plasma (“electrical”) activity in Space.
      Such plasma phenomena are fully scale-able from laboratory here on earth through multiple orders of magnitude, but the edifice of gravity-based interpretations of solar and interstellar data that we are now able to observe are a perfect example of entrenched bias much in need of a ‘paradigm shift’.

      BTW – electricity, both here on earth and out into ‘the Beyond’ is a force that is a million, billion times more powerful than gravity. Yet it barely exists within the lexicon of astrophysics, albeit that this is (slowly) changing.

      • @ Tiburon

        Because in fact “black holes” do not exist.

        HA, you got that right.

        The fact that it is referred to as a “hole” is proof-positive that nothing physically exists within the defined boundary of said “hole”.

        That’s why it is not very smart for one to attempt to delete or remove a “hole” from something by “cutting it out”.

      • Tiburon, I beg to differ. We have the theoretical physic in general relativity and the math of the event horizon. We have direct observation in three ways. 1. Orbital speed of nearby stars, for example near Galactic centers like ours, which requires enormous gravity from some invisible object to offset centripital force. Physics 101. 2. Observed radiation from infalling matter. There are several permutations, accretion disks being only one. 3. Now 2 sets of gravity waves from merging black holes, with a rising ‘pitch’ perfectly matching that calculated from general relativity.

        Peratt’s 1980′ stuff from LANL was fatally flawed theoretically and refuted by observational astronomy. Irrefutable stuff like CMB and redshift. Which is why it got no traction in astrophysics and never will.

      • Frankly, a singularity of this sort is only possible in mathematics. Having said that, the hypothesis that such singularities exist in the physical world is predictive of many things we observe and things we observe so far do not contradict their existence. Assuming them to be real works for me until there are observations that say they don’t. “Truth is what works.” – William James. “If it doesn’t work, we will torture the data till it confesses.” – M. Mann

      • Actually, everything in Physics is only a theoretical construct. The mathematics describing it was all made up in our heads out of whole cloth.

        We don’t know that anything we talk about in physics really exists. Why would it exist if we just made it up ??

        But there are a whole host of things that most certainly do exist, and some of them seem to behave very much like the stuff we made up; sometimes very closely, like much better than one part in a million observed difference; just to put a number on it.

        There are some things that exist which don’t look even remotely like the theoretical constructs of our physics made up models.

        One of those real things that isn’t remotely like out theoretical physics constructs is called climate !


      • Well cutting out a black hole to get rid of it, is akin the Mortimer Snerd’s method for getting a rope with only one end.

        You take an ordinary rope with two ends, and you cut one end off.

        You can make two different kinds; depending on which end you cut off.


    • Simply because, in the realm of Black Hole Science, detection is still in its infancy. Much like the way that Climate Science Models are still in their infancy.

      • Ooh, myNym that’s so true! Stillborn mutants missing vital organs and limbs, with no chance of viability.

      • Well we now have at least two actual observations of black holes colliding; that were made (the observations) in the Einstein Wave spectrum.

        That’s the new radio spectrum now available for licensing if you want to build your own laser gravitated radio.

        It’s even available in stereo !


    • Cuz most aren’t very massive. From Hubble site:

      “Stellar-mass black holes form from the most massive stars when their lives end in supernova explosions. The Milky Way galaxy contains some 100 billion stars. Roughly one out of every thousand stars that form is massive enough to become a black hole. Therefore, our galaxy must harbor some 100 million stellar-mass black holes. Most of these are invisible to us, and only about a dozen have been identified. The nearest one is some 1,600 lightyears from Earth. In the region of the Universe visible from Earth, there are perhaps 100 billion galaxies. Each one has about 100 million stellar-mass black holes. And somewhere out there, a new stellar-mass black hole is born in a supernova every second.

      “Supermassive black holes are a million to a billion times more massive than our Sun and are found in the centers of galaxies. Most galaxies, and maybe all of them, harbor such a black hole. So in our region of the Universe, there are some 100 billion supermassive black holes. The nearest one resides in the center of our Milky Way galaxy, 28 thousand lightyears away. The most distant we know of lives in a quasar galaxy billions of lightyears away.”

      • Um…. since most of those stars have not supernova’d it is wrong to do a simple divide of number by percent heavy enough… one needs to now the fraction old enough to have already imploded too.

      • EM,

        Supernovae were much more common earlier in the history of the universe. They burn out rapidly and leave a black hole, which then sucks in more mass from its surroundings.

      • So can the missing “Dark Matter” simply be as yet unobserved black holes, that show us nothing but their gravity ??


      • And the periodic comets that soar through our solar system (Halley’s Comet, etc.) are unaffected by the strong gravitational attraction of “Dark Matter” that they encounter during their journey.

    • Thank you Bryan A and Gloateus Maximus.
      I had hoped for better answers than electric universe folly.
      And you provided.

    • It’s plasma.

      A Black Hole is code for they can’t explain it using Newton’s Equations – so it must be a Black Hole – they’re everywhere we look.

  3. This is the second science article I’ve seen this week that references “the speed of sound in interstellar space”. Watts up with that?

      • If I undestood this corectly
        “…. has a speed of more than 100 km/s, which exceeds the speed of sound in interstellar space by more than two orders of magnitude.”
        Two orders of magnitude is 10 x 10 = 100, i.e. ‘speed of sound in interstellar space’ is less than 1km/s. Here on the terrafirma in the atmosphere at the sea level the speed of sound is about 0.343 km/s, the same order of magnitude as what they assume is ‘the speed of sound in interstellar space’.
        I am not convinced.

      • Hmmm. Well, here`s something about Sound and cosmic (local cosmic that is) phenomena, not of course in interstellar space, but food-for-thought and speculation regards, perhaps, “spooky action at a distance“, of a form…: –

      • @Tiburon February 4, 2017 at 11:05 am
        ” perhaps, “spooky action at a distance“, of a form…”

        No, nothing like it. The “spooky action at a distance“ phrase was coined by Einstein in describing the quantum state of entanglement. He was certainly right about the “spooky” but wrong about the “action at a distance”.

      • Just went through this on a fishing site, where somebody said that sound travels faster in water than in air, because it is denser (the water).

        Actually increased density works against higher sound velocity, which goes inversely as SQRT of density. But it goes up proportionally with the SQRT of the incompressibility; or if you wish up with SQRT of modulus of rigidity; and water is way more incompressible than air. Ideal gases all have the same compressibility, so sound velocity goes up inversely as SQRT of density, which is why chipmunks breathe Helium.

        So interstellar gas has different density and compressibility from earth air, so it has a different velocity of sound. But yes it does have the ability to propagate compressive waves just like air does.


      • Dear George,

        I don’t think so. Sound waves (in a fluid) are a phenomenon of a continuous medium (very small mean free path and collision interaction), such as in the low atmosphere. The high atmosphere becomes a particulate medium (very large mean free path) and the dynamics are described by Newtonian Flow. In other words, there is no bulk behavior; there is only the behavior of the individual molecules, which substantially no longer collide with one another. This situation becomes even more so as we move out into interplanetary, interstellar, and intergalactic space.

        The possible exception to this might be if the gas was a plasma and interacted through the electromagnetic fields of the charged particles (which effectively increase the collision cross-sections of the plasma constituents). But in that case, we would talk of Alfven waves, not sound waves.

    • But, much like climate science and runaway warming from trace gas CO2, black holes haven’t been disproved

      • “It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” R.F.

      • Bryan,
        No need to disprove something that has not been proven. CAGW is at best, a theory (although some dispute that since it doesn’t seem to have a viable null hypothesis) and as such fails if ANY of its predictions fail. On that front it’s not looking too good. No flooded coastal cities, no armies of climate refugees, no increase of hurricanes, no increase of tornadoes, and only slow warming well within the bounds of natural variation.

        Black holes are also just a theory. Using the currently understood physical laws of the universe, they are possible. No flaws have been found in the math underpinning the theory. So far, observations (which are admittedly difficult and sparse) conform to the theory. There are, of course, alternative theories for these observations, but that does not rule out the black hole theory.

        So your comparison of the two theories (black holes and CAGW) is completely wrong.

      • A theory cannot be proven. It can be disproven. Once a theory is proven it is no longer a theory, it is fact. Just because you’ve never seen something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

      • CAGW hasn’t reached the scientific level of being a theory. Only through rationalization can it even be called demonstrated hypothesis.

  4. I don’t know why the “mismatch” but the causal universe is estimated from first principles to have about 10 ^22 massive BH. The coalescence she observed by LIGO is an improving confirmation of the population.

  5. The speed of sound is the speed of a mechanical impulse propagation and varies with density. Intergalactic space has about one molecule per cubic kilometer, that is VERY low density. Another way of saying it is the Mean Free Path, IIRC about 10^6 kilometers.

    • Wouldn’t sound wave propagation become impossible at extremely low particle density? How is one particle per cubic kilometer going to propagate mechanical energy to the next particle?

      • So why then can’t the speed of sound in a vacuum be zero? In air it is about 1000 fps. In water it is about 5k fps. In steel it is about 15K fps.

        Make the air less dense, which way does the SoS trend?

    • It varies with temperature, not density. Temperature measures how fast the molecules are traveling, and hence the speed of the impulse. Density determines how far each molecule has to travel before hitting another molecule and transferring the impulse.

      • Does vary with density. Inversely as SQRT(rho) !
        Higher Temperature doesn’t change the density, but it does change the pressure and so alters the bulk modulus of compressibility. (Takes a higher external pressure to compress the gas so the modulus of rigidity goes up with Temperature, and that should increase the velocity of sound propagation which is a compressive wave.


      • Indeed. And when the mean free path becomes hundreds or thousands of kilometers in length, each molecule acts as a particle, and there is no collective phenomenon called “sound.” This is demonstrated by the high school physics experiment with an alarm bell in a vacuum jar: as the air is pumped out, the sound of the bell diminishes and vanishes. (When in intergalactic vacuum, you are more likely to hear the impact of micrometeors, than any “sound” from the surrounding medium.)

  6. There is evidence of a black at the centre of the milky way. Evidence if the movement of large suns circulating around empty space. Black ! Each sun is in a different shaped orbit about the same point. So yes black holes can be seen by proxy evidence.
    Of course, the difficulty is that you cannot see the black hole and therefore say there it is.

      • Both can be seen if you have eyes that see in those frequencies. Some animals can see infared. There are also many devices that allow people to “see” them as well

      • Well, I certainly defer to your specialized knowledge, ristvan, in that I could not possibly debate you in mathematical or physics space. But your offhand reference to Peratt strikes me as beside the point, (regarding redshift and CMB), and a little bit of `hand waving`.
        Here`s something regards the “irrefutable“ nature of the consensus science to which you subscribe, granting it comes from a `dissident mathematician` and physicist, regarding the `proven science` of black holes, and as a kindly-meant rejoinder to Paul Penrose`s comment “No flaws have been found in the math underpinning the theory“ (clearly, opinions vary) Crothers, an Aussie, has a rather droll sense of humour IMHO. Right or wrong, just posted for interest; let`s all avoid any ad hominems and discuss on the merits, `K?

        I find daily, proofs of that adage (paraphrased) “it is difficult to convince someone of something when their salary depends on their not understanding it…“

      • or this…about all the competing, theoretical, “black hole universes”…(of which, granted that this is an assumption on my part), we all occupy only one. ;-)

      • Tiburon, I paid you the courtesy of watching the first Crowthers video at that Electric Universe conference. His math failed on the second ‘first proof’ slide that general relativity is wrong. That was stupid of him. As bad as Salby’s nonsense.Even stupider was claiming GR is wrong rather than that EU is an alternative explanation. GR predicted gravitational lensing, a now well observed manyntimes over space time curvature. In fact Eddington and his team used geographically dispersed observations of the 1919 complete solar eclipse to first observe gravitational lensing around the Sun, and announce Einstein correct.
        As a second example of how really horribly off this video is, you must agree that GPS works. Cause it does. In your car’s navigation system. It works because of triangulation of precise timing signals from orbiting atomic clocks in GPS satellites. But relative to the same atomic clock on earth, the orbiting ones tick 7 microseconds per day slower because of time dilation at orbital speed (special relativity) and 45 microseconds faster because of Earth’s local spacetime curvature. The net is 38 microseconds faster per day, which is 38,000 nanoseconds. That would translate into 10 km/day of positional error, which would accumulate over days. GPS works because both special and general relativity corrections are calculated and applied to the orbiting timing signals.
        Had no idea there was anything as goofy as Electric Universe conferences. Right up there with Randy Mills GUT-CQM and hydrinos, which more goofy alternative ‘physics’.

        BTW, both the GPS example and deconstruction of hydrinos are examples in ebook The Arts of Truth. The penultimate example ‘wrap’ chapter is on climate change, and was critiqued by Dr. Lindzen of MIT before publication. You might find it interesting.

      • Vuk, great link. I read it with great interest concerning history of science, bias, and precision. However accurate the article is historically, it ignores one thing. They were right. Proven practically by the utility of modern GPS. Hindsight is 20/20. Regards.

      • @ristvan February 4, 2017 at 1:38 pm
        “Tiburon, I paid you the courtesy of watching the first Crowthers video at that Electric Universe conference. His math failed on the second ‘first proof’ slide that general relativity is wrong. ”

        This guy is clearly a f$%^wit of the first order. As soon as he referred to spacetime tensor subscripts as u-v instead of mu-nu, it was obvious he was out of his depth at square one. And he just kept digging. Quite amusing to watch these types of clowns in action though.

      • @ristvan
        Agree, GPS conclusively turned strong hypothesis to a theory.
        I was surprised when Dr. Svalgaard while ago said that Eddington experiment was problematic, a bit of search led to the above link. Also found that Eddington did lot of good astronomy, but in his later years made some odd claims:
        “ there are 15 ………………………. 296 protons in the universe” number 77 digits long.
        A convenient excuse for my irresponsible approach to the matters scientific.

  7. Some other images of this supernova remnant W44.

    First, just Infrared. Nothing spectacular, pretty ordinary looking million year old supernova remnant.

    But now in Gamma Ray emissions. Anything that is putting out Gamma Rays (the highest energy level of EM radiation there is) is a special object. Majenta is Gamma Ray emissions

    And one of the brightest objects on the galactic plane in Cosmic Ray sources (protons accelerated to near the speed of light).

    And then a more detailed look at what these scientists found. Gas velocities. Base on all this, it has to be a black hole which formed in the supernova.

    • looks something akin to a dense plasma focus to my lying eyes. just sayin’.

      “Any substance with a “multimillion-degree” temperature is not a gas but is ionized plasma. What the Max Planck scientists fail to realize is that the X-rays they are seeing is synchrotron radiation and not the incandescent glow of hot gas. The X-rays (and the gamma rays and ultraviolet light) are due to electrons spiraling along helical magnetic fields”

    • Bill, black hole for sure. Acceleration to gamma ray energies! But it cannot be from the supernova. If one formed from it, it would be at the center of the halo. The second radiation image shows yhis object is outside the halo, just as the artists image portrayed.
      What is neat about this discovery is that there are many such supernova halos of various dimension. Think Crab Nebula. Look at many of them for this new ‘siphoning’ phenomenon or equivalents (imagining several,different halo/hole relative motions), and one can develop a first order estimate of black holes per unit space volume from nebulae volume and observed phenomenon count. Almost a special mission to scan at least our galaxy. Much more refined than quasar count, which only gets supermassive black holes (assuming quasar theory correct).
      Why? I am very suspect of dark matter, and think if most supernova produce either neutron stars or black holes, than after ~14 billion years those could comprise the ‘dark matter’. The colliding galaxy ‘dark matter’ halo cloud stuff really isnt very convincing if there are lots of non Galactic center, not supermassive black holes.

      • Have you done the arithmetic on that conjecture. I too would like to think that most if not all dark matter is just undetected normal, baryonic matter. But I haven’t calculated how many “normal” or supermassive black holes would be required to account for all hypothesized dark matter. At least some is baryonic, but how much, nadie sabe.

      • The primary function of the hypothesized dark matter is to flatten the galactic rotation curves. If not distributed in the correct way a large number of stellar mass black holes would fail to produce the appropriate galactic rotations,

      • GM, back of the envelope heuristic argument for my supposition. Standard model cosmology (probably wrong ) has about 5% regular matter and ~ 27% dark matter. The rest is supposedly energy and neutrinos, including dark energy, since E=MC^2. Ok, lets run with it, acknowledging that black holes are mostly dark.
        Universe is ~13.9 billion years old (we think, subject of separate cosmology discussion). And we ‘know’ that after inflation and the ‘fog clearing’ event that allowed EMR to escape about 13.5 billion years ago to create the CMB, stars began to form. Based on redshift, we can now ‘see back’ to about 12.5 billion years ago. Lots of supernova then, evidenced by pulsars and quasars that fortuitously ‘aim’ at Earth. Many more then than now, because universe was much denser and gravity would have caused more larger stars to form more quickly. (The more massive a star, the more rapidly it goes supernova and makes a blackhole. Google stellar lifetime calculator as function of mass determined by luminosity.) So lots of very early blackmhole formation. Now we also know that any star ~>3.5x the sun will eventually go supernova. And any over ~ 10 solar masses will end black hole rather than neutron star. (Anything less than ~3.5 goes red giant then brown dwarf, our fate.)
        Run napkin calcs on present observed liminoaity Milky Way stars, and there must be at least ~100 million black holes of all masses (per Hubble website, not my napkin). Now black holes eventually ‘eat’ any mass in their vicinity via gravitational attraction. We see that happening. Bigger ones eat more for obvious reasons. So just in the Milky Way, 100 million black holes all still opportunistically eating regular mass and turning it dark. And at least one or more supermassive (~billion times our sun) is at the galaxy center. Now our galaxy has about 100 billion visible stars of all sizes, and maybe 100 million black holes of all sizes > 10x sun. The at least one central one equals ~1 billion suns, which leaves 99 billion other regular suns of all masses. Most remaining galaxy stars by now are ‘smallish’ because massive stars go supernova fast. Then the next most massive early eater from long ago, and then the next most massive early eater… I don’t find it implausible that over ~13.5 billion years of this process, ~ 84% of the universe ordinary matter has been converted to black holes, using our galaxy as typical of the 100 billion other galaxies. All have at least one supermassive black hole at center. And there were more massive supernova producing black holes in the distant past than at present simply due to expansion of space as shown by redshift. And they have been earing ever since. Remember also that all elements > iron were created by supernova. If our rocky planet is typical, a lot of that around. So lots and lots of past supernova.
        Highest regards.

      • Stan, your observation is the merging galaxy argument I find very unconvincing. Read up on the observational paper details. Any sufficient angular momentum mass of any shape eventually flattens into an acreetion disc. Our solar system is but one example. Our galaxy is another. Just basic physics 101 (which I took). Explanation you can google.

      • stan, the flat galactic rotation curve is a violation of Kepler’s 3rd law. Dark matter was proposed to explain away this violation of a fundamental law. It assumes that stars obey Kepler’s law. Well this is not always true. Planets obey Kepler’s law because they have elliptical orbits. Stars can have spiral orbits that’s why spiral galaxies look spiral.

        I will write a paper showing a violation of Kepler’s law (flat rotation curve) is not necessarily a violation of Newtonian mechanics. Hence, no need to modify Newtonian mechanics or invent dark matter. (My paper on dark energy is under peer review of physics journals. It’s also revolutionary)

  8. Well, appears we have found the blackhole Trump is supposed to use in his EO directed destruction of the human race. Cool, one less thing to worry about.

      • A timely but delightfully inappropriate reply that raises another question.

        If a so-called black hole sucks all light into it, is it not more correctly described as an invisible white hole?

      • Hole is a misnomer, since it’s the very opposite of empty. BHs are packed with matter as densely as can be.

      • GM, actually, we don’t know. General Relativity allows us to calculate the event horizon from the mass. Just where space time curvature is so great that light itself (em radiation) cannot escape the gravitational field (the curvature is ‘closed’). IF curvature inside is still greater as GR math predicts, then it is conceivable that all the internal mass collapses to a point singularity. OTH, quantum theory says the event horizon would still produce random ‘virtual particle pairs’. And Hawking’s ‘black hole evaporation’ math says those pairs precisely at the event horizon have a probability of one of the pair escaping. Hence ‘evaporation’. And that supposedly solves the so called information loss problem in the information theory version of cosmology. All WAY beyond my paygrade. But this Japanese paper is neat real science and fun to discuss.

      • The thing about black holes is that space is being folded inward or pulled inward at faster than the speed of light. Nothing can escape this becuase nothing travels fast enough. But are there forms of matter than resist this pressure to maintain an object with a surface in a black hole.

        We know that Neutron degenerate matter cannot resist this pressure. If you drop a baseball from one metre above a nuetron star, by the time it hits the surface and turns into a tiny speck of neutrons, it is traveling at half the speed of light. Once a Nuetron star gets to about 3 solar masses, this gravity now grows to exceed the speed of light and the neutrons are collapsed to at least form quarks only or the matter must continue collapsing until it is a singularity. The neutrons cannot hold back any longer at these gravitational pressures and they collapse into quarks or something else.

        But we don’t have a good model for the quark degeneration pressure. After about 3.5 solar masses it is expected that even quarks collapse into a singularity. But I think is still possible black holes really are quark stars where the gravity near its surface is faster than the speed of light and it operates exactly like a black hole even though there is a surface underneath. There are no physics calculations to say one way or the other. Like climate change, if you try to make this point, physics majors collapse on you like a ton of neutron star material and insist you are full of sh-t and should be banned.

        When yOu get to super-massive black holes, the quarks are gone but a different theoretical particle, prions, could make up the tiny star at its centre. It is strictly a case of whether matter can resist collapsing into a singularity where all the mass seems to exist within the same space. It doesn’t have to be until we can estimate the quark degeneration pressure and the prion degeneration pressure. Now I will be attacked by physics majors.

      • BE, and others like me, a comment from a subatomic particle admitted layman who just values truth and how to approach it. Wrote a book about that. The Arts of Truth. There is zero ( and that could have been capitalized) evidence from CERN that any subatomic particles smaller than quarks exist. Not a proof, but a strong supposition. Stick with what is scientifically ‘proven’, and be skeptical of all the rest unless you can prove it just wrong using Popper and Kuhn.

      • Black holes do not suck all light into them. Outside the event horizon the black hole has a gravitational field which evidently can deflect the light, but it doesn’t suck it into the hole.

        But light generated inside the event horizon cannot escape, because the gravitational escape velocity > c.


  9. Black holes are theoretical — they are ideas back by some supporting evidence.

    The illustration is an “artist’s conception” and should be so labelled. Failing to label such images leads to a ridiculously stupidized general public.

    I had a teacher who posted an image of a spiral galaxy with a little arrow points to a spot near the rim labeled “You Are Here” . She told the class that this was a photograph of the Milky Way galaxy and that the star the arrow pointed to was our Sun. When I pointed out that it was absolutely impossible that this was a real photograph, taken from some far distant point (hundreds of light-years away) looking back at our galaxy, she was indignant and told us all that the image was from the NASA web site so she was sure it was true.

    • Kip, that is a hilarious story. More NASA liberty with truth. On their climate pages they tout Dessler’s 2010 paper ‘proving’ positive cloud feedback–with an r^2 of 0.02!!!

      • Rud, they forget that a high cloud deck reflects both ways and albedo increases have a way of preventing the insolation from reaching the oceans for storage and transport, which is what predominantly drives the current weather and tropospheric circulation patterns.

      • Pop, yup. Essay Cloudy Clouds in ebook Blowing Smoke discussed some of the complexities. My more general concern is how much NASA climate science is nonscience (pun intended).

      • And the higher the clouds; the higher is their heating effect (That is actually taught in one of the standard climatology textbooks.) Somebody once sent me an Amazon link to that standard text book and the very graph that shows that the higher the clouds are the more they heat the surface. There is a neutral altitude where they neither heat nor cool, and below that the lower the clouds are the more they cool the surface.

        So Noctilucent clouds must be the real barn burners that are cooking us. Does it seem rational; the higher the clouds the lower their density; the fewer molecules to block outgoing infrared radiation. The less IR they can re-radiate to the surface; but yet they warm the surface more, the higher they are; according to a standard text book; probably a meteorological text book. I lost the Amazon link to it, and never copied their silly graph.


    • Nice to see that someone understands that there might be other possible ways of understanding just what these massive compact objects called black holes might be. Event horizons have never been observed. The gravitational red shift of light emitted from a suitably compact mass can be so great that they can be plenty dark without the infinite red shift of an event horizon. I would bet that no infinities actually exist in nature.

      • SR, you may be right because we can never go there then come back to tell what we observed–except in movies. OTH, math has served us very well in designing electricity grids (Maxwell equations) and airplanes (Bernoulli and Navier -Stokes). And so on. So I bet on the math, always.
        Oh, and math says CAGW is a bogus alarm. Observational sensitivity half modeled. No modeled tropical troposphere hotspot.

      • Stan, someone observed upthread, with a link to New Scientist, that the theory of quantum gravity, which also has quantum space in it with a granulation of about 10^-35 m, eliminates all the infinities in physics, and just replaces them with ginormous numbers.


      • You are correct, that there should be no singularities , as present day physics accepts that the underlying framework of nature is quantum mechanical, and quantum mechanics is based on the Heisenberg uncertainty principle which defuses all singularities by introducing regions in variable spaces instead of points.

        Once gravity is definitively quantized the term “singularity” will no longer be useful mathematically but only figuratively, pointing to a limiting process from classical calculations to quantized ones. This is already seen in the use of an effective quantization of gravity, in what is called the Big Bang model of the history of the universe, . Note the “quantum fluctuation” region.

    • “she was indignant and told us all that the image was from the NASA web site so she was sure it was true.”

      … so moving right on along, she changed topics to the settled science of AGW!

      Reminded me of Alex Filippenko saying how easy it was to find supernovae – just take a photo of the sky and look for the little red arrow. :-)

  10. OK…let me get this straight…they claim to be able to detect ‘gravitational waves’ (the faint resonance from the Big Bang)…but they’ve missed a Black Hole in our own Galaxy up till now?
    Did I get that right?

    • Yes. We suppose that there is a huge black hole in the center of every galaxy, but there may be an unknown number of “small” black holes (ten times the mass of the Sun and more). Ligo observed a merger of two such black holes. Today we have no idea how they are distributed.

    • No you didn’t get it straight. They don’t claim to be able to detect gravitational waves from the big bang. The recent detections were from black holes in collisions.

      The big bang remnantations are thermal radiation at about 2.7 kelvin; not gravitational waves.


  11. I notice that people have not opined on which of the two scenarios they think most likely to be true. Personally I find the “irruption” model, with a black hole zooming through a large gas cloud, to be more intuitively appealing and simpler, so on appealing to Occam’s Razor, it’s the one I go with. But hey, has my intuition always been correct?


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