Black Hole's Guts Modeled in Supercomput

June 18 [Tue], 2013, 3:24
The inner workings of black holes are a bit clearer thanks to a supercomputer simulation that showed how matter falling into black holes emits light.

By analyzing a simulation of aabout the size of a star, researchers saw how two kinds of X-rays can be emitted by the stuff falling into the densest objects in the known universe.

"Our work traces the complex motions, particle interactions and turbulent magnetic fields in billion-degree gas on the threshold of a black hole, one of the most extreme physical environments in the universe," lead researcher Jeremy Schnittman, an astrophysicist at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said in a statement.

Stellar-mass black holes are created when massive stars run out of fuel, collapsing into extremely dense objects with strong gravitational pulls.

Gas orbiting a black hole eventually builds up into a flattened disk as it falls toward the black hole's center. The gas can reach temperatures of up to 20 million degrees Fahrenheit (12 million degrees Celsius) about 2,000 times hotter than the sun's surface as it nears the center. The hot gas shines in low-energy light known as "soft" .

"Black holes are truly exotic, with extraordinarily high temperatures, incredibly rapid motions and gravity exhibiting the full weirdness of general relativity," Julian Krolik, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, said in a statement. "But our calculations show we can understand a lot about them using only standard physics principles."