Scientists find the Seabiscuit of black holes

Anxious to escape their hungry host, winds scream out of a stellar-mass black hole known as IGR J17091-3624 at a hasty 20 million mph. At that speed one could circle the Earth in one thousandth (.001) of a second.

These speedy breezes are not entirely unique to this black hole. Winds at this speed have been observed in other black hole systems. However, the catch is that every black hole system found to exhibit these winds has weighed in at a hefty million to billion times more massive than our Sun.

As stated above, this new black hole system is a stellar-mass black hole, meaning it is nowhere near as massive as supermassive black hole systems. Yet, this stellar-mass black hole exhibits the same wind speeds as its sumo cousins. How can this be?

Chandra observed the black hole back in 2011 when it was relatively quiet with no wind. The new observation lead scientists to believe the winds are periodic meaning they switch on and off.

Although there is no solid explanation behind IGR J17091-3624’s colossal wind speed, astronomers believe winds in general arise from magnetic forces within the discs of black holes.

For more information you may read the press release or visit Chandra’s website for video.

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