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10 April 2014 11:44 am ,
Vol. 344 ,
Tight budgets are forcing NASA to consider turning off one or more planetary science projects that have completed their...
Ebola is not a stranger to West Africa—an outbreak in the 1990s killed chimpanzees and sickened one researcher. But the...
In an as-yet-unpublished report, an international panel of geoscientists has concluded that a pair of deadly...
Tropical disease experts tried and failed before to eradicate yaws, a rare disfiguring disease of poor countries. Now,...
Since 2002, researchers have reported that agricultural communities in the hot and humid Pacific Coast of Central...
Balkan endemic kidney disease surfaced in the 1950s and for decades defied attempts to finger the cause. It occurred...
The Pyrenean ibex, an impressive mountain goat that lived in the central Pyrenees in Spain, went extinct in 2000. But a...
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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.