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Black Holes May Stir the Cosmic Broth

One of the problems of explaining the universe we live in is the presence of heavy elements. After all, the cosmos was a simple matter right after the Big Bang, with hydrogen and helium its only ingredients. Creating the heavier elements required stars, the model being that their eventual death in massive supernova explosions scattered ‘star stuff,’ as Carl Sagan liked to call it, throughout the universe, leading to the wide range of elements we see today and, of course, to life.

New research is adding black holes to that picture, seeing them as influential in spreading these same elements far and wide. The supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy NGC 4051 is at the center of investigation. A research team led by Yair Krongold (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) has found that gas is escaping the black hole from a source closer to its Schwarzschild radius than previously thought. In the case of NGC 4051, that radius — the point beyond which nothing can escape the black hole — is about four million miles.

Although the accreting material in question is about 2000 times that distance, between 95 and 98 percent of it does go on to fall into the black hole. But that leaves between two and five percent that does not. The so-called ‘winds’ from black holes like this one pump heavier elements like carbon and oxygen back out of the galactic core, where they eventually become part of the clouds of dust and gas in which new stars form.

Thus we learn more about the influence of black holes on their surroundings, and their implied role in re-distributing the elements needed for life. But one puzzle remains: The fraction of escaping gas in the case of NGC 4051 is too low to account for the heavier elements found in intergalactic space. The team’s next goal, then, is to see whether more powerful active galaxies allow a greater percentage of nearby gases to escape. That work will continue using the same XMM-Newton space observatory techniques that produced the first result.

More on this in Krongold et al., “The Compact, Conical, Accretion-Disk Warm Absorber of the Seyfert 1 Galaxy NGC 4051 and its Implications for IGM-Galaxy Feedback Processes,” Astrophysical Journal 659 (April 20 2007), pp. 1022-1039 (abstract available)

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  • ljk May 11, 2007, 13:41

    Supermassive Black Holes

    Authors: Fulvio Melia

    (Submitted on 10 May 2007)

    Abstract: Supermassive black holes have generally been recognized as the most destructive force in nature. But in recent years, they have undergone a dramatic shift in paradigm. These objects may have been critical to the formation of structure in the early universe, spawning bursts of star formation and nucleating proto-galactic condensations. Possibly half of all the radiation produced after the Big Bang may be attributed to them, whose number is now known to exceed 300 million. The most accessible among them is situated at the Center of Our Galaxy. In the following pages, we will examine the evidence that has brought us to this point, and we will understand why many expect to actually image the event horizon of the Galaxy’s central black hole within this decade.


    26 pages, 15 figures, to appear in “Kerr Spacetime: Rotating Black Holes in General Relativity” eds. D.L. Wiltshire, M. Visser and S.M. Scott, (Cambridge Univ. Press)


    Astrophysics (astro-ph)

    Cite as:

    arXiv:0705.1537v1 [astro-ph]

    Submission history

    From: Fulvio Melia [view email]

    [v1] Thu, 10 May 2007 19:13:40 GMT (803kb)


  • ljk May 24, 2007, 10:01

    BLACK HOLES (Catalyst: 17/05/2007)


  • forrest noble October 3, 2007, 18:57

    Although they haven’t found a significant amount of heavy metal moving out from Black Holes, I believe they soon will, probably detected in quantity in newly forming galaxies in dense galactic clusters. I agree that Black Holes do stir the cosmic broth and believe that the well-accepted neucleo-synthesis theory developed by Fred Hoyle et.al. is probably also valid—that heavy elements are (primarily) created in Super-Nova explosions.

    Although there is ample evidence to support the existence of Black Holes, contrary to popular theory, I don’t believe that black holes are a single vacuous/ vacant point as proposed by Hawkings et. al. relating to Einstein’s original mathematical concepts.

    Instead, an alternative theory argues that:
    Black Holes are a dense state of matter roughly thousands of times more dense than a theoretical Neutron Star. That they are a compressed form of dark matter –that dark matter is a kind of “aether” omnipresent throughout the universe, on earth, and which is the sole cause/ source of gravity everywhere. These dark-matter fields, and their densest areas Back Holes, have created all atomic matter in the universe except for heavier elements that are created within stars; No Big Bang! After creation these atomic particles are both destroyed and recycled through these Black Holes. Creation is continuous surrounding the Back Hole of young galaxies—mostly protons, electrons, with some helium nuclei..

    Accordingly, maybe 90% of the atomic matter within most galaxies would have been originally created by the mammoth central Black Hole(s) within them (in the larger scheme of the universe stellar Black Holes like stars in general are relatively inconsequential). This new creation is accomplished, according to theory, by the tremendous forces applied to stings of dark matter that surround Black Holes. All these strings of dark matter, and those within the Black Hole would continuously but slowly increase in number while decreasing in size (a string theory without the need for new dimensions). This can explain galaxy red-shift. Atoms and the particles within them were larger in the past therefore they would have produced longer E.M. radiation. Space also would appear to us to be expanding because of the relative increase in the size difference between individual matter particles/ atoms and the space which it occupies.

    There still would have been a beginning to the universe at one point in time. Not a Big Bang, just a silent single particle very slowly evolving. The same identical “simple particle” that would accordingly make up all dark matter, particle matter, atomic matter, us, etc.—past, present, and future. Of course in the past it would have to have been countess-times larger compared to the identical particle today, but what would size mean if it was the first and only thing that existed. With trillions of years available for the creation for the observable universe (instead of 13.7 billion years according to B.B. theory) there would have been ample time for nucleo-synthesis of heavy elements, and for the observable universe to evolve into the large galactic structures that we have observed, which at best are poorly explained by B.B. theory. Questions? Please!

    forrest noble

  • ljk January 8, 2008, 9:16

    Prompt Shocks in the Gas Disk Around a Recoiling Supermassive Black Hole Binary

    Authors: Zoltan Lippai (1), Zsolt Frei (1), Zoltan Haiman (2) ((1) Inst. of Physics, Eotvos University, Budapest, Hungary, (2) Dept. of Astronomy, Columbia University, New York, NY)

    (Submitted on 7 Jan 2008)

    Abstract: Supermassive black hole binaries (BHBs) produced in galaxy mergers recoil at the time of their coalescence due to the emission of gravitational waves (GWs). We simulate the response of a thin, 2D disk of collisionless particles, initially on circular orbits around a 10^6 M_sun BHB, to kicks that are either parallel or perpendicular to the initial orbital plane. Typical kick velocities (v_k) can exceed the sound speed in a circumbinary gas disk. While the inner disk is strongly bound to the recoiling binary, the outer disk is only weakly bound or unbound. This leads to differential motions in the disturbed disk that increase with radius and can become supersonic at ~700 Schwarzschild radii for v_k ~500 km/s, implying that shocks form beyond this radius. We indeed find that kicks in the disk plane lead to immediate strong density enhancements (within weeks) in a tightly wound spiral caustic, propagating outward at the speed v_k. Concentric density enhancements are also observed for kicks perpendicular to the disk, but are weaker and develop into caustics only after a long delay (greater than 1 year). Unless both BH spins are low or precisely aligned with the orbital angular momentum, a significant fraction (greater than several %) of kicks are sufficiently large and well aligned with the orbital plane for strong shocks to be produced. The shocks could result in an afterglow whose characteristic photon energy increases with time, from the UV (~10eV) to the soft X-ray (~100eV) range, between one month and one year after the merger. This could help identify EM counterparts to GW sources discovered by LISA.

    Comments: 4 pages, 3 figures, submitted to ApJL

    Subjects: Astrophysics (astro-ph)

    Cite as: arXiv:0801.0739v1 [astro-ph]

    Submission history

    From: Zsolt Frei [view email]

    [v1] Mon, 7 Jan 2008 15:28:28 GMT (1001kb)


  • ljk June 24, 2008, 14:40

    Radio Telescopes Reveal Unseen Galactic Cannibalism

    “Radio-telescope images have revealed previously-unseen
    galactic cannibalism — a triggering event that leads to feeding
    frenzies by gigantic black holes at the cores of galaxies.

    Astronomers have long suspected that the extra-bright cores
    of spiral galaxies called Seyfert galaxies are powered by
    supermassive black holes consuming material. However, they
    could not see how the material is started on its journey toward
    the black hole.”