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NuSTAR probes black hole mystery

5 November 2017 Astronomy Now

Black holes are famous for being ravenous eaters, but they do not eat everything that falls toward them. A small portion of material gets shot back out in powerful jets of hot gas, called plasma, that can wreak havoc on their surroundings. Along the way, this plasma somehow gets energized enough to strongly radiate light, forming two bright columns along the black hole’s axis of rotation.

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Gravitational waves from a binary black hole merger observed by LIGO and Virgo

27 September 2017 Astronomy Now

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo collaboration report the first joint detection of gravitational waves with both the LIGO and Virgo detectors. This is the fourth announced detection of a binary black hole system and the first significant gravitational-wave signal recorded by the Virgo detector, and highlights the scientific potential of a three-detector network of gravitational-wave detectors.

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Black holes crash together and make waves

3 June 2017 William Harwood

Three billion years ago, in a third of a second, two black holes crashed into each other and merged into a single entity, converting two solar masses into energy that shook the fabric of spacetime, sending gravitational ripples across the universe that were detected on Earth last January, researchers announced Thursday.

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Do stars fall quietly into black holes?

30 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Astronomers at the University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University have put a basic principle of black holes to the test, showing that matter completely vanishes when pulled in. Their results constitute another successful test for Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

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Fermi satellite observes billionth gamma ray

16 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Imagine you had superhero vision and could see a whole new world of fascinating phenomena invisible to the human eye. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope gives astrophysicists analogous powers. It captures images of the universe in gamma rays, the most energetic form of light.

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Merging galaxies have enshrouded black holes

10 May 2017 Astronomy Now

Black holes get a bad rap in popular culture for swallowing everything in their environments. In reality, stars, gas and dust can orbit black holes for long periods of time, until a major disruption pushes the material in.