black holes

A gravitational vortex

The European Space Agency’s orbiting X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has proved the existence of a “gravitational vortex” around a black hole. The discovery, aided by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission, solves a mystery that…


Some radio transmission…

No astronomer had ever seen anything like it. No theorist had predicted it. Yet there it was — a 5-millisecond radio burst that had arrived on 24 August 2001 from an unknown source seemingly billions…


A picture of a black hole?

Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the MIT Haystack Observatory have developed a new algorithm that could help astronomers produce the first image of a black…


Slowly one by one, or one big black hole at once?

For years astronomers have debated how the earliest generation of supermassive black holes formed very quickly, relatively speaking, after the Big Bang. Now, an Italian team has identified two objects in the early Universe that…


NGC1600 never does anything small, does it?

Astronomers have uncovered a near-record-breaking supermassive black hole, weighing 17 billion suns, in an unlikely place: in the center of a galaxy in a sparsely populated area of the universe. The observations, made by NASA’s…


A dark hot spot

When you look up at night, the Milky Way appears as a swarm of stars arranged in a misty white band across the sky. But from an outside perspective, our galaxy looks more like a…