Black Holes Discovered to Power Quasars –The Brightest Lights in the Universe

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Movement of black holes power the persistent lights in the universe. Black holes not only spin, they can also move laterally across their host galaxy. And according to astrophysicists at Brigham Young University, both types of movement power massive jets of energy known as quasars. One black hole in the galaxy Centauras A propels radiation in a jet measuring 1 million light-years long.



These spectacular jets stream out of galaxies that contain discs of debris and gas, the remnants of stars ripped apart by the force from black holes.

"The black hole is like a generator spinning around in these magnetic fields," said BYU professor David Neilsen, lead author of the study. "The way the field lines get twisted around and pulled by the spinning black hole creates electromagnetic tension that gets turned into radiation and energy that goes out."

The spin of black holes has been believed to play a role since the idea was put forward in 1977. The new study confirms this theory while also introducing a totally new component: that a black hole's lateral movement also powers these jets.

"Rotational kinetic energy contributes, but the simple movement like a billiard ball can also contribute to this," said BYU professor Eric Hirschmann, a co-author of the study. "The two processes don't compete with each other, they combine with each other to give you the overall energy that streams away from the black hole."

In other words, the biggest and brightest quasars could come from black holes that both spin fast and traverse their host galaxy at high speeds.

The Daily Galaxy via Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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