3rd Aug 2012

A Musical Universe

At the heart of the Perseus Cluster, 250 million years distant, lies a supermassive black hole that has been singing the same song for 2.5 billion years. Supermassive black holes are monstrous objects commonly found in the centres of galaxies, up to tens of billions of times more massive than our sun, but the common idea that nothing can escape a black hole is wrong. Some matter can actually be violently expelled as “relativistic jets”, surging out at a black hole’s poles. Normally there’s no sound in space because there’s no medium for the pressure waves to travel through, but in some places, such as in the Perseus Cluster, there’s hot gas, allowing the jets to slam into it and propagate through like a galactic drum. We can’t hear the waves, but we can see the peaks and troughs—the Chandra X-Ray Observatory has observed concentric ripples of bright and dark gas, indicating sound waves. The supermassive black hole plays one note registering 57 octaves below middle C—a B-flat—and the waves have a frequency of 10 million years, so they’re one million billion times lower than the lowest sound audible to the human ear. What’s interesting is that these waves keep the gas in the cluster warmer than it usually would be, affecting the rate of star formation, and so these black hole “songs” could help us understand the evolution and growth of the biggest structures in the universe: galaxy clusters.

This post has 713 notes
  1. 1000-to-1 reblogged this from everydaysciencetv
  2. brice254 reblogged this from sciencesoup
  3. inscrutable-sorceress reblogged this from sciencesoup
  4. lindameowsyang reblogged this from katieslynn
  5. katieslynn reblogged this from bedroom-acoustics
  6. bedroom-acoustics reblogged this from sciencesoup
  7. skrunt reblogged this from sciencesoup
  8. varkarrus reblogged this from radiocabel
  9. kikdin reblogged this from radiocabel
  10. radiocabel reblogged this from wellmanicuredman
  11. thermonucleartom reblogged this from bossa
  12. bossa reblogged this from sciencesoup
  13. kudonaden reblogged this from sciencesoup
  14. vihu reblogged this from sciencesoup
  15. millasvs reblogged this from sciencesoup
  16. dianemoser reblogged this from sciencesoup
  17. starrylite reblogged this from asddsdf
  18. s3r0tonin reblogged this from sciencesoup
  19. blankspacesinbetween reblogged this from sciencesoup
  20. larger-than-life76 reblogged this from dianamailove
  21. agnotologist reblogged this from sciencesoup
  22. randomthoughtsfromskitty999 reblogged this from ms-notebook
  23. destructicons reblogged this from kirapuka
  24. kirapuka reblogged this from sciencesoup
  25. motivationsuchanaggravation reblogged this from spacejogger
  26. spacejogger reblogged this from neuronsandneutrons
  27. cincuentaydos reblogged this from scinerds
  28. fuckyeahthatsgay reblogged this from scinerds
  29. huffingcreampuff reblogged this from sciencesoup
  30. bonitoboy reblogged this from sciencesoup