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Chandra Data Reveal Rapidly Whirling Black Holes

For Release: January 10, 2008, 2:00pm CST

CXC Release

Spinning Black Holes Survey
Credit: NASA/CXC/UFRGS/R.Nemmen et al.; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss
Press Image and Caption

A new study using results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory provides one of the best pieces of evidence yet that many supermassive black holes are spinning extremely rapidly. The whirling of these giant black holes drives powerful jets that pump huge amounts of energy into their environment and affects galaxy growth.

A team of scientists compared leading theories of jets produced by rotating supermassive black holes with Chandra data. A sampling of nine giant galaxies that exhibit large disturbances in their gaseous atmospheres showed that the central black holes in these galaxies must be spinning at near their maximum rates.

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