Wednesday, 02 Apr, 2008 Science

Scientists Discovered the Smallest Black Hole


Scientists working at NASA have spotted the smallest black hole ever discovered. Its mass is less that four times the mass of the Sun and has the size of a large city. Scientists dubbed the little black hole J1650. Despite its small size and mass, the hole is still very strong.

"This black hole is really pushing the limits. For many years astronomers have wanted to know the smallest possible size of a black hole, and this little guy is a big step toward answering that question," stated Nikolai Shaposhnikov, who works at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Scientists consider that the small black hole can be even stronger than bigger holes located in the middle of our galaxies. Shaposhnikov mentioned that the gravity of the hole is able to "stretch your body into a strand of spaghetti."

Just like all the other black holes in the universe J1650 was created by a star that has shut down due to the fact that it ran out of fuel and it disintegrated because of its own gravity. Together with his colleague Lev Titarchuk, Nikolai Shaposhnikov in his research used Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer satellite and applied a new way to calculate the size of the black hole, which was discovered in a system located in the southern constellation Ara, found in our Milky Way Galaxy.

The new method of black hole size estimation calculates the oscillation of hot gas that amassed near the black hole as it absorbs matter. The method applied by the researchers was mentioned at the meeting of American Astronomical Society High-Energy Astrophysics Division held in Los Angeles.

According to scientists the mass of J1650 is of 3.8 Suns and it would be about 15 mile across. "This makes the black hole one of the smallest objects ever discovered outside our solar system," concluded Shaposhnikov.

"Amazingly, equations from Albert Einstein predict that a black hole with 3.8 times the mass of our Sun would be only 15 miles across - the size of a city," stated NASA's representatives.

According to scientists a star that would collapse having a much smaller parameters than J1650, would probably form a neutron star rather than a black hole.

Advances in science are starting to give us a glimpse of where we stand in the universe.  The technical orchestra of computer parts, satellite images and the vast archive of human knowlege work together to improve our understanding.  Imagine the information flow is like streaming music to our scientific ears.

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