Chandra clocks Black Hole “Winds” at 1 Million Miles Per Hour

By Keith Cowing
May 26, 2000
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Chandra Maps Black Hole WindsGalaxy NGC 3783 contains a large and violent black hole at its center. Black holes contain matter that has been so highly compressed that the escape velocity – i.e. the speed needed to break free of its gravitational pull – is the speed of light. As such nothing – not even light – can escape once it passes the point of no return. This point is called the “event horizon” – beyond this point, no information (light or radiation) can escape to allow a direct understanding of events within. We must use other, indirect means to understand what is happening inside.

While matter is sucked into a black hole, the region surrounding the black hole (and directly observable by us) is affected causing massive displays that allow us to infer what is happening inside the black hole.

As the immense gravitational field of this black hole draws matter inward and tears it apart, titanic amounts of intense radiation are released outward. This radiation interacts with gas surrounding the black hole. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory recently took a close look at the gas surrounding this black hole. Data show that the gas is heated to temperatures of more than 100,000°C and is pushed outward by the black hole moves at speeds in excess of a million miles per hour.

Related links

° Chandra Clocks 1 million mph wind expanding from vicinity of black hole, NASA press release

° Chandra website, Harvard University

Background Information

° Search the SpaceRef press release collection for Chandra information

° Gravitational Lens Helps Chandra Find Rare Type of Black Hole, NASA press release

° Chandra reads the cosmic bar code of gas around a black hole, NASA press release

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