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The Birth of a Black Hole

They have discovered new details about the birth of a famous black hole, a birth that took place over millions of years. The new and revealing information has been obtained by a team of scientists who analyzed data collected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory at NASA, as well as other optical telescopes, radio and X-ray.


Cygnus-X-1-system - black hole


The Cygnus X-1 system contains a black hole, and new research on this has led to extremely accurate values of its mass, rotation and distance from Earth. With these key data, has managed to reconstruct the history of the black hole.


This new information can be deduced as born, its mass and how fast spinning shortly after its formation. It is an important achievement because, as emphasized by Mark Reid of the Center for Astrophysics (CfA), managed jointly by Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution, not much is known about the birth of black holes.


In addition to the team of Reid, the analysis of the measurements has also worked team Jerome Orosz from San Diego State University in United States, and Lijun Gou, also of the CfA.


The black hole of Cygnus X-1 is comparable to the mass of a star. Black holes of this kind are the direct result of a massive star collapsing on it when it runs out of nuclear fuel. The black hole commonly referred to as Cygnus X-1 and a massive blue star very close (HDE 226868) orbit each other.


One team of scientists was able to determine the speed of rotation of the black hole that is rotating and is very close to the maximum possible. At the height of its event horizon (the point of no return for the material falling into a black hole) rotation is over 800 times per second.


Another result is that, by all indications, the black hole was born about 6 million years. In this very short period of time (in astronomical terms), the black hole can not have absorbed enough gas to greatly increase their rotation speed. This implies that probably born already possessing an extremely high speed.


Using optical observations of the companion star and its motion around the black hole, several scientists have managed to make the most accurate measurement yet of the mass of the latter: 14.8 times the mass of the sun. It is likely that its mass at birth was only a little lower, due to lack of sufficient time so that it has grown considerably.


Other new data support the hypothesis that the black hole was not born in a supernova, the less significant as such, but may be the result of collapse without exploding progenitor star. The star that caused the black hole of Cygnus X-1 was probably a very massive star, which initially had a mass equivalent to over a hundred stars like our Sun.

Find out more in this black hole documentary