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Rogue black holes may roam the galaxy

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  • derhexer@aol.com
    URL to an interesting article from Fox news _http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,518598,00.html_ (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,518598,00.html) I really
    Message 1 of 1 , May 4, 2009
      URL to an interesting article from Fox news

      I really like the title. I wonder if there are tame black holes.

      Reminds me of the story The Doomsday Effect by TK Wren

      First few paragraphs
      Hundreds of massive black holes left over from the early universe may
      wander the Milky Way, according to new calculations.
      These _rogue black holes_
      (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/080109-aas-rogue-black-holes.html) are thought to have originally lurked at the
      centers of tiny, low-mass galaxies. Over billions of years, those dwarf
      galaxies smashed together to form full-sized galaxies like the Milky Way.
      The idea of such wandering black holes _has been suggested before_
      (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/blackhole_010913.html) , but a new
      computer simulation calculated that hundreds of them should be left over,
      and predicted that they might now be shrouded by small star clusters.
      "These black holes are relics of the Milky Way's past," said researcher
      Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "You could say
      that we are archaeologists studying those relics to learn about our galaxy's
      history and the formation history of black holes in the early universe."
      _• Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Space Center._

      It appears that Earth is safe. The closest rogue black hole should reside
      thousands of light-years away.
      Astronomers are eager to locate them for the clues they will provide about
      the formation of the Milky Way, since they are thought to date from the
      universe's galaxy-building days.
      Back then, whenever two young galaxies with central black holes collided,
      their black holes would _merge to form a single black hole_
      (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/blackhole_merges_020208.html) . In the
      chaos of the merger, the black hole could be flung out toward the edges of the
      galaxy, the new computer model shows.
      It predicts that hundreds of such black holes would still be around today
      in the _outer reaches of the Milky Way_
      (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070524_wandering_bhole.html) , each containing the mass of 1,000 to
      100,000 suns.

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      They would be difficult to spot on their own, though, because a black hole
      is not visible. They can be detected, however, when matter they're about
      to swallow is superheated as it accelerates inward.
      Another telltale sign could mark a rogue black hole: a surrounding cluster
      of stars yanked from the dwarf galaxy when the black hole escaped. Only
      the stars closest to the black hole would be tugged along, so the cluster
      would be very compact.
      These clusters are so small that each looks like a single star from far
      away. Thus, astronomers will have to use tricks to distinguish them, such as
      separating the light from the clusters into its component colors to
      discover the individual stars hiding inside.
      "The surrounding star cluster acts much like a lighthouse that pinpoints a
      dangerous reef," said Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics' Ryan
      O'Leary, who co-wrote the paper. "Without the shining stars to guide our way,
      the black holes would be all but impossible to find."
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