Image compliments of ZME Science
As a scientist, I have always been interested in Astronomy, but especially since viewing the stunning pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. I find the study of outer space fascinating, as it gives us clues to origins of the universe and our own planet. The Hubble Space Telescope was instrumental in changing many scientists’ conceptions of how big the universe really is and how everything works. It has changed concepts in physics and has provided clues to scientific concepts relating the very large to the very small.
One of these concepts is illustrated in an artist’s conception above. Here we see a super-massive black hole that has been determined to be the heaviest detected in the known universe thus far.
The main component of photograph is an artist’s representation of M33 X-7, a binary system (a binary system contains 2 stars) in the nearby galaxy M33. In this system, a black hole is orbiting around a star (large blue object), which is about 70 times more massive than our Sun. This black hole is almost 16 times the Sun’s mass (even though it appears smaller). Before the black hole was created, it was formerly a giant star that reached the end of its life. It burned up most of its mass, thereby reducing the amount of fusion taking place. The huge reduction in fusion reactions, then allowed it’s massive gravity to dominate, causing a super-massive implosion (collapse) to form a black hole. However, in this situation, the resulting black hole is a record for those created from the collapse of a giant star. Other black holes at the centers of galaxies are much more massive, but this object has set a record for a so-called “stellar mass” black hole.
In this artist conception, the orange disk surrounds the black hole (which cannot actually be seen). The visible orange disk is material fed by a wind from the blue star, which has been swept into orbit around the black hole. Material from the star is being pulled into the black hole by its powerful gravity. The material that makes it past the black hole is disrupted, causing turbulence beyond the disk. The blue star is also distorted by gravity from the black hole. The star is stretched slightly in the direction of the black hole, causing it to become less dense.
The inset shows the actual system. It is derived from a composite of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue) and the Hubble Space Telescope. The bright objects in the inset image are young, massive stars around M33 X-7, and the bright, blue Chandra source is M33 X-7 itself. By using X-rays detected by Chandra it is possible for scientists to determine how long the black hole is eclipsed by the companion star, which indicates the size of the companion. Observations by the Gemini telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii track the orbital motion of the companion star around the black hole, giving information about the mass of the both members of this binary system.
These observations from both the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, clearly demonstrate their important scientific contributions and the need for their continued funding.
Maddalena Environmental Inc.