in Space

Surrey Uni researches systems hosting black holes

Posted 8 September 2016 · Add Comment

New research by the University of Surrey published today in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society has shone light on a globular cluster of stars that could host several hundred black holes, a phenomenon that until recently was thought impossible.



Globular clusters are spherical collections of stars which orbit around a galactic centre such as our Milky-way galaxy. Using advanced computer simulations, the team at the University of Surrey were able to see the un-see-able by mapping a globular cluster known as NGC 6101, from which the existence of black holes within the system was deduced. These black holes are a few times larger than the Sun and form in the gravitational collapse of massive stars at the end of their lives. It was previously thought that these black holes would almost all be expelled from their parent cluster due to the effects of supernova explosion, during the death of a star.

“Due to their nature, black holes are impossible to see with a telescope, because no photons can escape”, explained lead author Miklos Peuten of the University of Surrey. “In order to find them we look for their gravitational effect on their surroundings. Using observations and simulations we are able to spot the distinctive clues to their whereabouts and therefore effectively ‘see’ the un-seeable”. 

It is only as recently as 2013 that astrophysicists found individual black holes in globular clusters via rare phenomena in which a companion star donates material to the black hole. This work, which was supported by the European Research Council (ERC), has shown that in NGC 6101 there could be several hundred black holes, overturning old theories as to how black holes form.

Co-author Professor Mark Gieles, University of Surrey continued: “Our work is intended to help answer fundamental questions related to dynamics of stars and black holes and the recently observed gravitational waves. These are emitted when two black holes merge and if our interpretation is right, the cores of some globular clusters may be where black hole mergers take place.”

The researchers chose to map this particular ancient globular cluster due to its recently found distinctive makeup, which suggested that it could be different to other clusters. Compared to other globular clusters NGC 6101 appears dynamically young in contrast to the ages of the individual stars. Also the cluster appears inflated, with the core being under-populated by observable stars.

Using computer simulation, the team recreated every individual star and black hole in the cluster and their behaviour. Over the whole lifetime of thirteen billion years the simulation demonstrated how NGC 6101 has evolved. It was possible to see the effects of large numbers of black holes on the visible stars, and to reproduce what was observed for NGC6101. From this, the researchers showed that the unexplainable dynamical apparent youth is an effect of the large black hole population.

“This research is exciting as we were able to theoretically observe the spectacle of an entire population of black holes using computer simulations. The results show that globular clusters like NGC 6101, which were always considered boring are in fact the most interesting ones, possibly each harbouring hundreds of black holes. This will help us to find more black holes in other globular clusters in the Universe. ” concluded Peuten.

 

* required field

Post a comment

Other Stories
Advertisement
Latest News

Rubb defence structure installed at Clive Barracks

An insulated building featuring Rubb's Thermohall technology has been installed at Clive Barracks at Tern Hill in the UK.

BAE Systems helps preserve HMS Victory for the future

Specialist engineers from BAE Systems are working with the National Museum of the Royal Navy on a unique project to help preserve HMS Victory, the world's oldest commissioned warship, for future generations.

Gentrack's CA+ extends airport property space management capability

Gentrack's Concessionaire Analyzer+ (CA+) solution for airport non-aeronautical revenue management, has had its property management functionality extended to include Space Management.

TEK and SKYDEX introducing blast matting solution at DSEI

Designer and manufacturer of ProTEK vehicle seating, Tek Military Seating and SKYDEX Technologies, Inc., provider of engineered impact and cushioning solutions, have partnered to develop a new blast floor matting system that will be

Loganair agrees distribution deal with Travelport

Loganair, has secured relationships with three GDS booking platforms after it agrees a multi-year global content distribution deal with Travelport using the code LM.

Belfast International Airport contracts NATS for ATC

NATS has signed a nine-year contract with Belfast International Airport for the provision of air traffic control and engineering services.

SMI UAV SK0208130917
See us at
SMI MilSat BT2907101117Advanced Engineering BT1007021117Aviation Africa BT18418DSEI LB0911150917SMIUAV BT1005280917SMI12DE BT203280917SMI AirMissBT0305251017SMI FAV BT1007161117