Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Black Hole Puts Dent In Space-time

A spinning black hole in the constellation Scorpius has created a stable dent in the fabric of spacetime, scientists say.

The dent is the sort of thing predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. It affects the movement of matter falling into the black hole.

The spacetime-dent is invisible, but scientists deduced its existence after detecting two X-ray frequencies from the black hole that were identical to emissions noted nine years ago. The finding will allow scientists to calculate the black hole's spin, a crucial measurement necessary for describing the object's behavior.

Blinking X-rays

Black holes form when very massive stars runs out of fuel. Their cores implode into a point of infinite density and their outer layers are blown away in a powerful supernova explosion. Within a theoretical boundary called the event horizon, the black hole's gravity is so strong that nothing, including light, can escape.

The X-ray frequencies detected by the team of researchers came from outside the event horizon of GRO J1655-40, a black hole located roughly 10,000 light-years from Earth. It is about seven times more massive than the Sun and siphoning gas from a nearby companion star.


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