Astronomers Say Newly Discovered Black Hole is Fast and Furious

Posted on February 28, 2014

Artists impression of a microquasar

Astronomers have discovered a new superpowered small black hole. It is a microquasar named MQ1. It is located in the galaxy M83, which is about 15 million light-years from Earth. The black hole is only 100 kilometers wide but its structure is much bigger than our solar system. Astronomers say jets extend out 20 light years from either side of the black hole. The finding indicates black holes can give off stronger winds than previously thought. An artist's impression of a microquasar is pictured above.

Curtin University senior research fellow Dr Roberto Soria, who is part of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and led the team investigating MQ1, says in the announcement, "MQ1 is classed as a microquasar - a black hole surrounded by a bubble of hot gas, which is heated by two jets just outside the black hole, powerfully shooting out energy in opposite directions, acting like cosmic sandblasters pushing out on the surrounding gas."

Dr. Soria also says, "The significance of the huge jet power measured for MQ1 goes beyond this particular galaxy: it helps astronomers understand and quantify the strong effect that black hole jets have on the surrounding gas, which gets heated and swept away. his must have been a significant factor in the early stages of galaxy evolution, 12 billion years ago, because we have evidence that powerful black holes like MQ1, which are rare today, were much more common at the time."

Dr. Soria says the most powerful microquasar in our galaxy, called SS433, is about 10 times less powerful than MQ1.

The research paper, "Super-Eddington Mechanical Power of an Accreting Black Hole in M83," was published here in the journal, Science.

MQ1 black hole in M83 galaxy

Top Image: T.D. Russell (ICRAR-Curtin), using the BINSIM visualization code by R. Hynes (LSU)

Second Image: M83 - NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (WFC3/UVIS, STScI-PRC14-04a).MQ1 inset - W. P. Blair (Johns Hopkins University) & R. Soria (ICRAR-Curtin)