View Full Version : Everything's on the Menu for Supermassive Black Holes

2006-Jun-21, 07:47 PM
The supermassive black holes that lurk at the heart of most galaxies have enormous appetites. They've already consumed millions of times the mass of our own Sun, and they're not done yet. Everything's on the menu: mostly gas, dust, planets and stars, but the occasional exotic delicacy gets consumed too. "Compact objects", such as stellar mass black holes, neutron stars, and white dwarfs occasionally fall into their grasp too. But these objects don't go with a whimper; they make screams we'll soon hear across intergalactic space.

Read the full blog entry (http://www.universetoday.com/2006/06/21/everythings-on-the-menu-for-supermassive-black-holes/)

2006-Jun-21, 09:21 PM
I try to visualize a stellar mass black hole spiralling in to an SMBH, and I keep forgetting that gravity accelerates up to very nearly the speed of light before they actually join. The idea of something with a mass five times our entire solar system hurtling around a racetrack at near the speed of light is quite a thought... especially when you think of the impact of the magnetic fields on any stray particles.

2006-Jun-22, 02:02 AM
The LISA mission is one that I find enormously exciting. But it was also mentioned a while ago in the context of NASA cutbacks. What is the current status? Is it still go for launch in 2015?

2006-Jun-22, 03:09 PM
LISA is still on the table. If we don't see anything in the LIGO S5 or subsequent runs, it creates an interesting dilemma: Do we still launch a LISA, basically assuming all prior estimates of gravity wave strengths were over optomistic? At what point should null results nullify the theory? I think that LISA is a necessary final test. Then the theory should be put to bed.

Good article, Frazier!

2006-Jun-22, 11:49 PM
Thanks Jerry, this one gave me a bit of a headache in the beginning, but I was able to muddle through it.

2006-Jun-23, 04:49 AM