The fastest space wind has been identified from a black hole. The findings are published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
A super-enormous black hole is generating ultraviolet winds that are swirling around at speeds reaching up to 200 million km/h — the fastest ever recorded (around 20% the speed of light, according to student-researcher Jesse Rogerson from York University based in Canada.
Winds in space differ from those on Earth: they are brought about by energy currents instead of the movement of local air masses. These energy bursts are the product of events like the emission of jets of plasma from stars.
These UV winds might not the only ones out there moving at such tremendous speeds. Rogerson explains that there may be quasar winds that have even faster speeds; quasar winds are associated with what is called the quasar of black holes, which is a disc made up of hot gas that exists around huge black holes. Quasar winds are thought to be essential for the formation of galaxies; for instance, they are thought to hamper the formation of stars. Scientists believe they might thus be indicative of the contents of galaxies and solar systems — which is why it is important to study them, say researchers.
Quasars are reported to be brightest of all things known in science. This is the result of the great ‘eating’ capacity of the black hole — the latter swallows mostly everything coming in its way such that the quasars will be able to emit absolutely intense light that will be detectable from a considerable distance. Quasar discs can become specially big. Consider this: one of them can be greater than our planet’s orbit around the sun. Sounds scary, right? Now, hear this out: they can also become hotter than the sun’s surface.
The quasar winds are the product of what is blown away (from matter that is attracted to the black hole) by the quasar’s light and heat. They were detected through the analysis of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s data obtained from quasar outflows. Further investigation was done from the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii and Chile. The fastest outflows were found to be associated with winds flowing at slower speeds: a new wind spotted in the quasar had a speed of only 140 million km/h. Patrick Hall, Rogerson’s supervisor, and his team intend to carry out further observations of this quasar.