WISE findings poke hole in blackhole donut theory

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by Trippy, May 25, 2014.

  1. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    A survey of more than 170,000 supermassive black holes, using NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), has astronomers reexamining a decades-old theory about the varying appearances of these interstellar objects.

    The unified theory of active, supermassive black holes, first developed in the late 1970s, was created to explain why black holes, though similar in nature, can look completely different. Some appear to be shrouded in dust, while others are exposed and easy to see.

    The unified model answers this question by proposing that every black hole is surrounded by a dusty, doughnut-shaped structure called a torus. Depending on how these "doughnuts" are oriented in space, the black holes will take on various appearances. For example, if the doughnut is positioned so that we see it edge-on, the black hole is hidden from view. If the doughnut is observed from above or below, face-on, the black hole is clearly visible.

    However, the new WISE results do not corroborate this theory. The researchers found evidence that something other than a doughnut structure may, in some circumstances, determine whether a black hole is visible or hidden. The team has not yet determined what this may be, but the results suggest the unified, or doughnut, model does not have all the answers.

    Last edited: May 25, 2014
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  3. paddoboy Valued Senior Member


    I did read that article...Interesting.
    How about the other possible BH properties such as angular momentum, and charge.
    May be they have some sort of lensing/illusional effect on what we see from such great distances.

    It's nice though to still here about research into BH observations, after the forum furore from some alternative people here when the recent Hawking paper was released.

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 25, 2014
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