back to article 'This BLACK HOLE just isn't BLACK AT ALL' snarl boffins

Boffins have found that a nearby black hole is not living up to its name at all by shining as brightly as it possibly can and showing scientists just how much more there is to learn about the astronomical phenomenon. Artist’s visualization of the environment around M101 ULX-1 Astroboffins have long been puzzled over the …

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this particular one is only between 20 and 30 times the size mass of the Sun

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The hole is still black

It's just the neighbourhood that is bright

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Re: The hole is still black

True enough.

The region could be that bright because it's draining off a nearby neutron star, which would be difficult to otherwise detect.

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I think they are seeing the back-side or out-put end of the black hole.

The black hole's input isn't in our dimension.

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Headmaster

No.

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Aliens.

They should check the spectrum for modulation artefacts.

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Pint

DISCOVERED: MASSIVE TWEET FROM STELLAR-MASS BLACK HOLE! Contents too inane to put into print. "MY GOODNESS!" SAYS SHOCKED QUEEN. READ ALL ABOUT IT ON PAGE 4.

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"ultraluminous X-ray light"

X-rays are not light, they are X-rays. Different part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

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Anonymous Coward

what? fool!

xrays are photons, ergo, light.

you're sort of correct, if by light you mean visible light

(physicist)

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I thought X-rays were what I got whilst sun-baking and some prick decides to cast a shadow over me.

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Coat

Actually, visible light is not light, it's electromagnetic radiation. It just so happens that our eyes are sensitive to certain wavelengths, but it's still there when nobody's watching.

So, light being electromagnetic radiation in the visible range, an LED should really be called an ERITVRED.

Okay, okay ... let's just stick to calling it light.

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Okay, okay ... let's just stick to calling it light.

Yes, lets… I find your light explanation a little heavy.

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Five instances of the word "Boffin" seem a bit nerdy, Only an egghead or a geek would abuse such a great word in order to become an obsequious sycophant to the experts. :-)

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Oops. We try not to go overboard :-)

C.

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"Oops. We try not to go overboard :-)"

It's an overly bright black hole. How can one *not* go overboard?

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jlb

I'm curious. How many readers here find the term "boffin" demeaning?

Wikipedia's explanation of the term says, "by the 1980s boffins were relegated, in UK popular culture, to semi-comic supporting characters such as Q, the fussy armourer-inventor in the James Bond films, and the term itself gradually took on a slightly negative connotation."

It seems to me that people in the media (particularly at the "Register") use it as a way to get cheap laughs from technically illiterate readers while at the same time disguising their intellectual insecurity.

Most of the essentials of modern life such as automobiles, refrigerators, televisions, the Internet, vaccines, MRIs, CAT scanners, and smartphones are based on the fundamental discoveries of scientists - scientists: the men and women who spend 8 to 12 years in higher education and then often work their entire lives building the vast fund of knowledge from which we all benefit. Don't we owe them more respect than to call them boffins and nerds?

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In case you didn't notice, much of the Register's headlines and articles use bits of language intended to be mildly amusing. And who are you to say that their typical readers are " technically illiterate"? It's a long-running technology news site, so I suspect that most of their regular visitor's level of scientific knowledge is above average. Think of it more as a somewhat nerdy person calling their friend a nerd in good humor, than someone doing so in a demeaning way.

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Boffin? No he just popped out for a minute

Well OF COURSE the word 'boffin' is demeaning. Insulting too. Why else would El Reg hacks use it?

Biting the Hand and all that, y'know?

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Boffin

"I'm curious. How many readers here find the term "boffin" demeaning?"

IIRC correctly, consensus was reached some while ago that the term "scientist" had been demeaned by various "soft", "social" and other non-sciences types calling themselves "scientists" and so the term "boffin" has been reclaimed to stand in for real scientists who do sums and build stuff.

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"Don't we owe them more respect than to call them boffins and nerds?"

Personally, I really ignore it. I'm quite certain that *they* ignore it.

So, what would *you* propose to call these rather bright people? Folks?

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Coffin' on Boffin?

Ah, bring back 'Mobe'!

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jlb

Scientists

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jlb

I never got that memo.

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jlb

Scientists.

And don't think "they" ignore it.

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Searching for discrimination in broad daylight...good grief...

If by here you mean The Register with it's slogan "Biting the hand that feeds IT" and by readers mean people that frequently read The Register, I think you need to draw up a venn diagram to answer it. First circle you will have all us geeks that are capable of understanding some the articles in here, otherwise you wouldn't be a reader. The second circle will be the people that are into SM and like to be demeaned by a dominatrix. This because that if you have to take some pleasure in it since they do it to consequently. The intersection will be the people you are asking for. I will not ask you as to why you want to seek out that particular crowd though.

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Paris Hilton

I'm confused!

it could be an example of an intermediate -mass black hole... could be the jumping-off point for the formation of supermassive black holes.

... theory that intermediate ones coalesce into supermassive ones can't be tested until they find an intermediate one to study."

This a very confusing scale of things and sizes. We jump straight from intermediate to supermassive?

We have:

micro blackholes

intermediate blackholes

supermassive blackholes

No "small?" No "Big?" Can we at least have "massive" blackholes in between the "intermediate" and the "supermassive". After all, "super" implies bigger, better, above or higher in a sequence so tacked onto massive implies that massive must come before super while massive itself creates a mind image of something humungously bigger than some puny "intermediate" thing so we ought to have "big" in between them too.

We need a proper embiggening scale for blackholes.

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Re: I'm confused!

"micro blackholes"

Nope, none observed so far. Still a bit of argument if they really do exist.

"intermediate blackholes"

Theorized, not observed yet. Hence, some bit of excitement.

"supermassive blackholes"

Well established science, well observed in every political office on the planet. ;)

OK, seriously though, decent observations, more every day and astronomers are eagerly awaiting Sag A* to take a bit of gas soon for more local observations on a supermassive black hole "eating".

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Re: I'm confused!

Here's my problem I have been trying to deal with ever since theorizing on black holes when I was in the 8th grade 30+ years ago. IF a black hole is a true singularity, then how can you have different sized black holes. After all, the singularity is supposed to be, in theory, a single infinitely small point in space/time. And if it is by definition infinitely small, they should all be the same size.

HOWEVER, here is where a theory of mine comes in. The larger the black holes event horrizon, the OLDER the black hole is. Here is why I believe this might be the case, Relativity shows that at the event horizon, time stops, to the external observer, however to the person/object that is breaching the event horizon, time continues on as normal. Due to this, to the external observer, all information seems to "freeze" and gathers at the event horizon. So ALL information that has gone to the point of the event horizon is frozen in the horizon until the black hole either "evaporates", Hawking's idea, or the end of time, or what ever else might end the life of a black hole.

So information is never really lost when something goes "into" a blackhole. To the observer, nothing is lost, it stays on the event horizon. So technically, one could reconstruct when fell in if you can read the information on the event horizon. But for the object the passed through the event horizon, they could end up in a completely different universe, dimension or reality. Their information could enter the new "realm" as virtual particles, stranglets or some unknown exotic type of energy or matter.

Or, I might be way off base.

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Re: IF a black hole is a true singularity,

It's not the size of the singularity, it's the size of the bubble it makes in space-time. The more massive the singularity, the bigger the bubble.

If you want your brain to really hurt, start thinking about the physics of the black hole at the event horizon. Material is always spiraling in but can never get there. Except that eventually one of those regions will achieve the same sort of super-density that causes the black hole in the first place. Now what?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I'm confused!

Fixed it for you.

"supermassive arseholes"

Well established science, well observed in every political office on the planet. ;)

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Re: I'm confused!

No "small?" No "Big?" Can we at least have "massive" blackholes in between the "intermediate" and the "supermassive". After all, "super" implies bigger, better, above or higher in a sequence so tacked onto massive implies that massive must come before super while massive itself creates a mind image of something humungously bigger than some puny "intermediate" thing so we ought to have "big" in between them too.

You are missing a step between "micro" and "intermediate" which is stellar-mass black holes. Those are typically in the tens of solar mass range, as distinct from "micro" black holes (around molecular mass) which are purely theoretical but at the root of all those "end of the world is nigh" trolls whenever a new particle accelerator is built.

Nor is there any gap between "intermediate" and "supermassive". That is the scientific rather than everyday sense of massive, i.e. "has mass" as opposed to "very big". Thus a supermassive black hole has a lot of mass, but even the micro size is massive.

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Re: I'm confused!

> No "small?" No "Big?""

This is one of those very odd things that various people have been trying to find out an answer for, over a very long period.

Either they don't exist (unlikely) or we're not looking in the right places ("Space is big, very big. You might think it's a long way down to the shops..."), or quite simply because we don't know WHAT we're looking for.

Finding black holes is difficult because they can't be directly observed. Think of it as predicting the location of a needle in the middle of a haystack - in the dark, from 500 feet away - using the methed of observing how the needle's gravitational effects on the pieces of straw immediately surrounding the thing change the way they reflect photons from the streetlamp at the side of the field.

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Re: I'm confused!

"HOWEVER, here is where a theory of mine comes in. The larger the black holes event horrizon, the OLDER the black hole is."

Except that assuming no material falls in, Hawking Radiation means the black hole is constantly losing matter and as such its event horizon shrinkis with age. (Assuming Hawking Radiation is a a valid construct and I've seen no reason to disprove it)

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It's a naked singularity

they've broken causality by viewing it

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"they've broken causality by viewing it"

Causality is routinely broken in domestic disputes. Effect precedes cause...

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Black Holes are black

But they're spectacularly messy eaters - worse than a cookie monster going "On Nom Nom"

It's estimated that only 2-3% of the matter in the accretion disk ends up going into the black hole, the rest is shot out as jets - and it's the accretion disk where the light is coming from thanks to matter orbiting at high velocity and banging into other chunks of matter.

The findings mean that things in the neighbouhood are moving a lot more energetically than previously thought and that the amount of matter crossing the event horizon may be significantly lower than previously thought - both mean the math needs reworking yet again.

(I'm not particularly susprised. Many researchers just add a "fudge factor" when results aren't quite as expected instead of going back to see why things aren't quite right. Space scientists would never be great accountants, let alone actuaries.)

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Fusion?

Is it possible that gas in the accretion disc reaches the conditions required for fusion to occur: tiny proto-stars bursting into life under the bizarre conditions of extreme gravity and distorted space-time you'd find around a black hole? This might account for the unexpected and variable surplus of energy.

(not a physicist)

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Could explain the missing "medium-sized" black hole population ...

ULX-1 could explain the missing "medium-sized" black hole population ....

While astronomers have determined that ULX-1 has a heavier - but reasonable stellar size - with a mass of about 30 solar masses - the energy output in the X-ray spectrum is extreme - and cannot be explained by simple models of magnetic synchrotron acceleration of accretion disk debris plasma along magnetic poles.

There is an argument that suggests that there may exist forbidden gravity field zones - like forbidden quantum energy levels in atoms - around and near galactic cores. "Medium-mass" black holes might exist - uniquely - as in stand-alone - but can not exist if bounded to orbits around galactic core black holes - which have a mass in the tens of millions of solar masses.

Instead, the forbidden energy state forces "medium-mass" black holes to tunnel completely the hole's spacetime energy for release through a black hole at the next lower energy state in its probable vicinity: A forbidden energy state black hole would then simply vanish from known space once the tunneling starts, because its mass and gravitic energy is "forbidden" from when and where it was orbiting the galactic core, but is allowed to emerge at the new location - but only released at the maximum rate allowed by that region of spacetime.

So, it could be postulated that ULX-1 may be the output end of a "worm-hole" - a "white" hole - which is "draining" - through quantum gravity tunneling - a "medium-mass" black hole which was once somewhere else in the galaxy - but has now quantum vanished from its former location in known spacetime.

That could explain the energy output of a '"medium-mass" black hole emerging from a "smallish" stellar mass black hole - which could only be detected at lower energy ranges if only accretion disk plasma synchrotron radiation generated the X-rays. Energy out is due to energy from two quantum gravity coupled black holes - one medium-sized and the other just "conveniently" near by.

Possible forbidden energy state conditions could be achieved by an in-falling medium-sized black hole accelerated by the galactic core to a superluminal velocity - or a medium-sized black hole caught in a powerful gravity wave - a spacetime distortion - which would result in superluminal velocities - a distortion which can exist wherever two galactic cores are found orbiting each other in very close proximity.

And, that is just a theory for boffins to kick around ...

Meanwhile, whatever was once living within several million light-years of ULX-1 has probably already beaten a path for the exits to avoid getting fried by the radiation: There could be a diaspora migration wave which may some day be detected by astronomers.

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speculation

The star is orbiting contrary to the Black Hole's accretion disc's spin. As it picks up mass from the general area that mass goes on an elongated journey and enters the accretion disc widdershins. There it collides with other masses at speeds a high approximation of the speed of light releasing x-rays and other such stuff. The average vector of the resulting masses being zero, they tend to fall toward the event horizon creating a cascade as they interact with more accretion disc.

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