Black Holes Highly Efficient Engines


Artist's Visualization of a Black Hole: Artists Visualization of a Black Hole
Courtesy XMM-Newton, ESA, NASA

A recent study shows black holes to be some of the most energy efficient engines in the universe, as well as playing a role in preventing galaxies from growing too large.

Black holes are super-dense objects formed when massive stars deplete their internal nuclear fuel and collapse into themselves. A black hole's gravitational force is so strong anything that wanders too close - such as a companion star or cosmic debris - eventually gets sucked into it. Super-massive black holes are thought to make up the centers of galaxies.

Using NASA's orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory, scientists studied nine older black holes located in star systems 55 million to 442 million light years from Earth. A light-year is the distance light travels in a year, approximately 6 trillion miles. The study measured both the amount of hot gas being drawn into the black holes and the high-energy particles being ejected from them.

Surprisingly, these "galactic engines" proved to be 25 times more efficient than anything man-made, even nuclear power.

"If you could make a car engine that was as efficient as one of these black hole engines you could get about a billion miles per gallon of gas", said study lead author Steve Allen of Stanford University and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.

Scientists think the conversion processes could be connected to the black holes' spin rates and magnetic fields.

The high energy spewed from these celestial engines at near the speed of light also seems to regulate galaxy size. Areas of heat produced from the jets prevent gas from cooling and forming new stars.

"The black holes are actually preventing galactic sprawl from taking over the neighborhood", said astrophysicist Kim Weaver of NASA.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

black holes arent real!

posted on Mon, 05/22/2006 - 8:06pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

black holes eat light

posted on Tue, 07/31/2007 - 10:13am
Carlos Andre's picture
Carlos Andre says:

OK here is my question...

Is it possible for man to create a black hole?

And if so... would it be possible to stabilize it, or control the size to which it grows?

If so what's the next step... I'm going to create a black hole powered vehicle, because gas prices are getting ridiculous.


posted on Mon, 08/28/2006 - 2:40pm
mdr's picture
mdr says:

Well, Carlos, that is a noble plan. However, you may have a problem achieving your goal. According to current knowledge--and using today's technology--in order to create even the smallest black hole would require energies of 1019 giga-electronvolts. The most powerful particle accelerator existing today is 10 million billion(!) times too weak to do this. It would take a collider scaled up to the size of a galaxy to produce such a black hole. And even if that were possible the resulting black hole would evaporate in 10-42 seconds and have a very difficult time swallowing even a single proton.

It's also been suggested that exploding a large hydrogen bomb could create the right conditions to crush matter to the necessary densities, but it would mean an H-bomb requiring all the heavy water in the oceans, and weighing many billions of tons.

posted on Thu, 09/14/2006 - 1:48pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

sommer is shocked about that

posted on Mon, 08/20/2007 - 12:34pm
peakindicator's picture
peakindicator says:

I am always having wild theories about things in science and space. Currently i am stuck on black holes. So, we now know that there is a supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. There is also a "dark rift" in the center of the milky way. Little is known about the contents of both of these because light does not escape or penetrate either one. My theory is that the "dark rift" and the black hole could actually be the same thing - what we perceive as black hole, actually being the mouth or entrance point, of some sort, to the dark rift. The dark rift, being the ouput of a black hole. Sort of like the serpent eating his own tail, if you will. Since the galaxy is essentially a spiral, i can really see this being a distinct possibility. Even Hawking says that the black holes have an output equal to their input; so wouldn't it make sense that since this interstellar dust contained in these dark rifts eventually forms stars, that they are kind of linked to linked to the black hole like the chicken and the egg? So our sun and all it's planets are slowly being sucked into a supermassive black hole, which is what is really holding gravity steady for everything in the milky way. Kind of like water down the drain. And i guess you could say if the balck hole is the drain, the dark rift is plumbing. I would really like to hear from scientist and knowledgeable ppl on what they think about my theories. I have way more too. lol. Lets advance science - YAY!!!


posted on Sat, 10/13/2007 - 5:58am
Leon's picture
Leon says:

Very interesting concept - there could be some kind of spider web in the fabric of the galaxy on which groups of systems are held two. Of course galaxies vary greatly in shape and structure and would one not expect to see a common structure if this idea hels any ground ?

posted on Sat, 11/03/2007 - 10:51am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

The "dark rift" contains the magnetic axis of our enorrmous monsterous spinning black hole located in the center of our galaxy. Our planet Earth will make a 3 day transit through this region on Dec. 21, 2012, as will our sun. There are 2 books out and the 3rd one is soon to be out that explains everything. The trilogy of books are titled The Ark of Millions of Years, Volume One, Two, and soon to be Volume Three...authored by E. J. Clark and B. Alexander Agnew Ph.D.

posted on Fri, 01/11/2008 - 8:23pm

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