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SPACE: new Theories on the Mysterious “Planet Nine”

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We have not one but two new theories for you about the solar system’s long-theorized and mysterious Planet Nine: Does the solar system have a big, dark ninth planet drifting somewhere far beyond the orbit of Neptune? Planet 9 Probably Doesn’t Exist Since 2016, many astronomers have said it’s possible, pointing to evidence for a large gravity source in deep solar space. But a new paper argues that this gravity source is nothing more than a statistical mirage, the consequence of where in the night sky astronomers point their telescopes. The first physical(CK) hint of this hypothetical Planet Nine was … Read more

SPACE: Astronomers Watch Black Hole Turn Star Into Spaghetti

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A black hole in a galaxy not far from Earth gobbled up a star like it was a big, exploding noodle, and astronomers got a front-row seat to the action. The “unfortunate star,” as the researchers called it in their paper, was orbiting in the dense nucleus of a galaxy with the unwieldy name 2MASX J04463790-1013349 about 214 million years ago when it found itself on a doomed path. It had wandered too close to the galaxy’s central, supermassive black hole. And that black hole stretched it out like spaghetti and swallowed it one big gulp. (Scientists literally call this … Read more

SPACE: Wait, Black Holes Have Hair?

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The information locked inside black holes could be detected by feeling their ‘hair,’ new research suggests. Black holes are celestial objects with such massive gravity that not even light can escape their clutches once it crosses the event horizon, or point-of-no-return. The event horizons of black holes lock secrets deep within them — secrets that could completely revolutionize our understanding of physics. Unfortunately, for decades many scientists thought whatever information falls into a black hole might be lost forever. But new research suggests that ripples in spacetime, or gravitational waves may carry a faint whisper of this hidden information by … Read more

The Turducken of the Cosmos

Black Hole Wormhole - Deposit Photo

Astronomers think they might be able to detect black holes falling into wormholes using ripples in spacetime known as gravitational waves, but only if wormholes actually exist and such a scenario ever happened, a new study finds. According to Einstein, who first predicted the existence of gravitational waves in 1916, gravity results from the way in which mass warps space and time. When two or more objects move within a gravitational field, they produce gravitational waves that travel at the speed of light, stretching and squeezing space-time along the way. Gravitational waves are extraordinarily difficult to detect because they are … Read more

SPACE: Strange Signal From a Mystery Object

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A signal from space first detected Aug. 14, 2019, may have come from a mystery object. And it might force physicists to rip up an old idea about black holes and neutron stars. The signal was a gravitational wave, a ripple in space-time labeled GW190814, and seemed to indicate the collision of two wildly mismatched objects. The larger one was definitely a black hole, about 23 times the mass of our sun. And the smaller one was either a black hole or a neutron star, about 2.6 times the mass of our sun. There’s just one problem: There’s never been … Read more

SPACE: How Close Can You Get to a Black Hole?

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Streams of gas fall to their dooms, plunging into black holes, locked away from the universe forever. In their final moments, these gassy shreds send out one last flare of light, some of the brightest emissions in the universe. These death dives are too far away to be seen directly, but astronomers have devised a new technique for detecting their panicked cries for help. They’re using the method to test our knowledge of gravity in the most extreme environments in the universe. In a new study, physicists looked at specific features of that light to figure out the closest you … Read more

Astronomers Find Black Hole “Close” to Solar System

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A newfound black hole may be the closest black hole to Earth, and you can spot its cosmic home in the night sky without a telescope. The black hole, which is lurking 1,000 light-years from Earth in the southern constellation of Telescopium, belongs to a system with two companion stars that are bright enough to observe with the naked eye. But you won’t be able to see the black hole itself; the massive object has such a strong gravitational pull that nothing — not even light — can escape it. Astronomers discovered this black hole while studying what they thought … Read more

SPACE: Milky Way’s Giant Black Hole May Have a Friend

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Do supermassive black holes have friends? The nature of galaxy formation suggests that the answer is yes, and in fact, pairs of supermassive black holes should be common in the universe. I am an astrophysicist and am interested in a wide range of theoretical problems in astrophysics, from the formation of the very first galaxies to the gravitational interactions of black holes, stars and even planets. Black holes are intriguing systems, and supermassive black holes and the dense stellar environments that surround them represent one of the most extreme places in our universe. The supermassive black hole that lurks at … Read more

SPACE: Astronomers Discover (Too) Big Black Hole

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A gigantic stellar black hole 15,000 light-years from Earth is twice as massive as what researchers thought was possible in our own galaxy. The black hole is 70 times more massive than the sun, the scientists wrote in a new study. Previously, scientists thought the mass of a stellar black hole, formed from the gravitational collapse of massive stars, couldn’t exceed 30 times that of the sun. “We thought that very massive stars with the chemical composition typical of our galaxy must shed most of their gas in powerful stellar winds as they approach the end of their life,” lead … Read more

SPACE: Do Massive Black Holes Keep Galaxies Alive?

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Supermassive black holes at the hearts of galaxies may be blasting hot, turbulent waves of gas through the cosmos, keeping galaxy clusters alive with their heat. And for the first time, astrophysicists believe they’ve seen that turbulence in action. Peer into a massive galaxy cluster and you’ll see hot gas swirling at its core, filling the space between stars and galaxies. But there’s a mystery about this gas. How does it stay so hot? Simple models suggest it should lose energy much faster than it does, and that gravity should start bind the whole cloud together into stars within about … Read more