ESA’s Integral gamma-ray observatory has spotted extremely hot matter just a millisecond before it plunges into the oblivion of a black hole. But is it really doomed? These unique observations suggest that some of the matter may be making a great escape.
No one would want to be so close to a black hole. Just a few hundred kilometres away from its deadly surface, space is a maelstrom of particles and radiation. Vast storms of particles are falling to their doom at close to the speed of light, raising the temperature to millions of degrees.
Ordinarily, it takes just a millisecond for the particles to cross this final distance but hope may be at hand for a small fraction of them.
Thanks to the new Integral observations, astronomers now know that this chaotic region is threaded by magnetic fields.
This is the first time that magnetic fields have been identified so close to a black hole. Most importantly, Integral shows they are highly structured magnetic fields that are forming an escape tunnel for some of the doomed particles.
via ESA - Space Science - Integral spots matter a millisecond from doom.