New study challenges supermassive black hole theory
This image shows a supermassive black hole as seen through the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) satellite.
July 15th, 2011
11:13 AM ET

New study challenges supermassive black hole theory

A new study based on data from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton X-ray space observatory is helping scientists revise their theory about the activation of supermassive black holes. Turns out, supermassive black holes may not start spewing intense radiation as a result of a merger between two galaxies, which is the current thought.

Most galaxies, if not all, have at their centers a supermassive black hole. Such black holes have a mass at least millions of times greater than the mass of our sun.

Black holes abound in early universe

It's not quite known what makes a supermassive black hole go from a quiet galactic center to an active nucleus, violently throwing off radiation. The standing idea is that when two galaxies are within close range of each other, or when they merge, disturbed galactic material then feeds the supermassive black hole, activating it.

It turns out that idea may be incorrect. New results from a study of the patch of sky known as the COSMOS field show that most active supermassive black holes weren't triggered by a merger of two galaxies. A paper on the study will appear in The Astrophysical Journal.

“These new results give us a new insight into how supermassive black holes start their meals,” said Viola Allevato of the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik; Excellence Cluster Universe in Garching, Germany, who's the lead author of the new paper. “They indicate that black holes are usually fed by processes within the galaxy itself, such as disc instabilities and starbursts, as opposed to galaxy collisions.”

Read more about the new study
Post by:
Filed under: Discoveries • In Space
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Lenny Bessette

    Is it not possible that a black hole could pull in matter at one end and repel matter at another end creating a sort of fuel pulled in here, energy is dispelled here, type of "Gyroscope-expanding machine"? Thus the more fuel sucked in the faster the galaxies around the Super massive black holes spin and expand in the universe. Just a thought!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  2. Kevin alvey

    The link posted below states primordial black holes could be the answer.

    September 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
  3. izzysatan?

    amazing photo!

    September 14, 2011 at 3:32 am |
  4. adam

    the large hadron DID in fact create anti-matter that was observed for 17 minutes, shattering the previous record of only a hand-full of seconds.

    September 9, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
  5. guitar

    or a blackhole could be some type of portal that leads into another dimension and for all we know thats how "extraterrestrial life' gets to earth.....

    August 12, 2011 at 12:20 am |
  6. f

    So Europe spent billions $$$ building their very large telscope.....and the best name they could come up with was....... The Southern Observatory's VERY LARGE TELESCOPE ???

    August 1, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Andrew

      They didn't invest enough money into the R&D Naming department obviously.

      September 14, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  7. Kevin Alvey

    Fusion and it’s creation at the grandiose scale
    Could a black hole’s singularity be so dense that nothing really enters but if contact is made it separates the -/+ particles as well as creating dark matter/dark energy? Which, might explain our expanding universe (e.g. if all of the negative particles showed up like (- – + – + – – + – to infinity). Could this be the reason it would be too dense to actually swallow anything but, instead create the space around us? I would also guess that if the world’s largest hadron collider actually gets turned on & does what is supposed to do, it might create a black hole that would not suck us in but would however be too heavy for our space. Then, it would basically just rip us apart by its massive density like an impenetrable piece of matter expanding from within. The reason that the expansion of the black hole doesn’t envelope everything is that the space it creates stops it from doing so. For example, if somebody tried to hold up an anvil with a sheet of paper it would most certainly break through the paper. As for this anvil it is infinitely dense so it would continue to swell & create the matter around it. I also think that’s why when a supernova happens a black hole is created; to help in the creation of new stars as well as the space for those stars and that is the reason the positive always outweighs the negatives.

    Additional Details
    *I am saying that upon the primal stages of the black hole’s birth it grabs the closest objects to them thereby destroying them in the process. Now at some point after this it will cease its negative gravitational pull on the surrounding objects at this point in time it will start in the creation of dark matter/ dark energy = positive/MOND. I am definitely not counting out the big bang theory in anyway with this thought.

    *This is only a theoretical question for open minded individuals.
    *"MOND" (for modified gravity)-push pull effect.
    *You can find proof of theses black holes with radio telescopes E.G. the static noise reflected back from space.
    * Also see Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker metric

    “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.”- Nikola Tesla

    July 17, 2011 at 6:28 am |
    • lol

      you are wrong abot most of what you have said and knowvery little about black holespleasestop making assumptions about the universe your as bad as religion.

      August 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
      • Austin

        lol back up your statement or your just a )o(

        August 11, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • MOCaseA

      While your basic premise seems to make sense I'd like to point a few things out:

      Black holes have only one setting: suck
      The radiation output from a black hole is actually the isotopic breakdown of matter along it's even horizon.
      In the destruction of matter by the time said matter reaches the core of the black hole it is rendered either into a completely different form or matter (something like the next step up in state, which I would have no idea what form that would take), or it is rendered completely into energy. The Black hole then becomes a semi-permanent storage of the matter.

      Eventually I do believe all black holes explode and the stored energy within is released back into the universe. However I cannot back this assumption up as it has never documented, nor even potentially proven.

      August 12, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Gaurdian

      There seems to truly be entirely to much time, energy, money and thought going into the subject of "black holes" that it's gone beyond pathetic and stupidity. One can simply look at nature on earth to gain the answer to what's really happening in space. There are several examples to choose from that are always present every day. The most common are: natural Whirlpools, Tornadoes and Hurricanes. Each of these events begin from the combined action of heat and cold movement. As these two forces pass each other they begin to spin and the spinning force creates the final event noted.

      Because the whirlpools and tornadoes are to small and move to fast it is not possible to actually/literally drop in from the top and go through the bottom of the vortex that does exist in them all. However, we can literally enter the vortex of a hurricane and land at the bottom of it without being harmed in any way. We could actually remain in the center of a hurricane until it ends without being harmed. The most interesting thing about this is the fact that you will not disappear or be torn apart by forces that don't exist like those assumed forces imagined in black holes by the so-called super brains.

      Furthermore, there is no gravity pulling anything into the alleged black hole. It is the force of the spinning that pulls in everything, just as a tornado, whirlpool or hurricane does. The "black hole" is simply the hole in the center of the spinning force and nothing more. If it were physically possible to travel to the whole I believe this fact would be proven by the traveler coming out the other end without harm. I also believe that the elements being pulled into the swirl simply remain in the spinning until they finally are able to break free from it and pass through to the other end.

      Just a thought. Now hopefully some of you can find something else to do with your time, money and energy that's more beneficial to life on this planet.


      September 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        I see one problem with your hypothesis... take a cork, attach it to a piece of string and start whirling it around your head... does the cork tend to gravitate outside the circle? or does it collapse inside itself? Tornadoes and Hurricanes, tend to repelle the objects they encounter, black holes? not so much.

        September 28, 2011 at 3:52 pm |


  • Elizabeth LandauElizabeth Landau
  • Sophia DengoSophia Dengo
    Senior Designer