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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Powerful Jet Being Produced by Star-Eating Black Hole
16 June 2011 2:00 pm
On 28 March, NASA’s Swift satellite observed a flash of gamma rays brighter than anything astronomers had seen before. It soon became evident that the event wasn’t a typical gamma ray burst, an emission of high-energy radiation that often accompanies a supernova explosion. The flash didn’t die out but was sustained for weeks, and although it has faded in intensity, it is still going strong 2½ months later. Two papers published online today in Science provide an explanation for this luminous surprise. The flare is in fact a high-energy jet of radiation produced by a star falling into a black hole at the center of a galaxy 4 billion light-years away. The reason the flare is so bright is that the jet is pointed straight in the direction of Earth. And it’s sustained because the black hole is consuming the star gradually. “That’s because as the black hole rips the star apart, the mass swirls around like water going down a drain, and this swirling process releases a lot of energy,” says Joshua Bloom, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, and lead author of one of the two papers. Bloom expects the flare to fade out over the next year.
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