Researchers clarify dynamics of black hole rotational energy

phys.org | 2/14/2018 | Staff
tiazanne (Posted by) Level 3
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Astrophysicists at MIPT have developed a model for testing a hypothesis about supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. The new model enables scientists to predict how much rotational energy a black hole loses when it emits beams of ionized matter known as astrophysical jets. The energy loss is estimated based on measurements of a jet's magnetic field. The paper was published in the journal Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences.

Astrophysicists have observed hundreds of relativistic jets—enormous outflows of matter emitted by active galactic nuclei harboring supermassive black holes. The matter in a jet is accelerated nearly to the speed of light, hence the term "relativistic." Jets are colossal, even by astronomical standards—their length can be up to several percent of the radius of the host galaxy, or about 300,000 times larger than the associated black hole.

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That said, there is still a lot researchers do not know about jets. Astrophysicists are not even sure what they are made of because jet observations yield no spectral lines. Current consensus holds that jets are likely made of electrons and positrons or protons, but they remain quite a mystery. As researchers obtain new data, a more comprehensive and self-consistent model of this phenomenon is gradually emerging.

The matter orbiting and falling onto a black hole is referred to as the accretion disk. It plays a crucial role in jet formation. A black hole, together with its accretion disk and jets (fig. 1), are thought to be the most effective "machine" for converting energy. If we define the efficiency of such a system as the ratio of the energy carried away by the jets to the energy of the accreted matter, it may even exceed 100 percent.

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Nevertheless, a closer look at the system reveals that the second law of thermodynamics still holds. This is...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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