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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Probing a Black Hole
20 December 2011 5:07 pm
How do you probe a supermassive black hole? Take a look at the pulsars that orbit it. These rapidly spinning neutron stars flash regular radio pulses, and in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal astronomers say that the timing of such pulses could provide a new understanding of the 4 million solar mass black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Scientists have speculated that physics as we know it could break down in the presence of such a strong gravitational force. If that's the case, any flashes from nearby pulsars would appear to speed up or slow down when viewed from Earth, with their clocklike arrival times running early or late and likely dependent on where their orbits were in relation to the black hole. In the process, the astronomers also hope to determine Sagittarius A*'s spin rate and true mass down to an accuracy of about 1 part in a million. First, though, they have to find pulsars close enough to this gravitational monstrosity to be useful. And that's not expected to happen until the Square Kilometer Array comes online early next decade.
See more ScienceShots.