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Friday, August 20, 2010

Black Hole Creates Galactic "Super-Volcano"

Galaxy M87 is an enormous collection of heavenly bodies, but astronomers who have studied the effects of its black hole see similarities to the recent volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, and have dubbed it a galactic super-volcano. We covered the shockwaves associated with the Earth mountain previously, and parallels can actually be seen in the distant galaxy.
In the analogy with Eyjafjallajökull, the energetic particles produced in the vicinity of the black hole rise through the X-ray emitting atmosphere of the cluster, lifting up the coolest gas near the center of M87 in their wake, much like the hot volcanic gases drag up the clouds of dark ash. And just like the volcano here on Earth, shockwaves can be seen when the black hole pumps energetic particles into the cluster gas.
“This analogy shows that even though astronomical phenomena can occur in exotic settings and over vast scales, the physics can be very similar to events on Earth,” said co-author Aurora Simionescu also of the Kavli Institute.
Chandra X-Ray Observatory has much more info on this and other astronomical wonders.
Full Story – and here’s the X-Ray version of the phenomenon.

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