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I Know Why the Black Hole Sings

9 Jul 2009, 03:35 UTC
I Know Why the Black Hole Sings NASA/Chandra
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Black Hole Week is still going strong here at Twisted Physics. There's no end to surprising facts about these enigmatic objects. One of my favorite black hole discoveries of the last few years was the 2003 detection of a "singing black hole" at the center of a galaxy in the Perseus Cluster, some 250 million light years from Earth. It's not actually trilling its way through a famous operatic aria like "Nessun Dorma" -- Luciano Pavarotti's reputation is secure -- and it only sings one note: B flat. But it is the lowest possible B flat ever detected.The Cambridge University scientists used the middle C note on a piano keyboard as a reference point when determining where the droning note emitted by the black hole would fall on the musical scale. On a keyboard, the B Flat nearest middle C is 1-1/2 steps away. The black hole's B Flat, however, is a whopping 57 octaves below middle C -- one million, billion times lower than what the human ear can detect. That gives the sound waves a frequency of 10 million years, compared to 1/20th of a second. It's a quirky effect related to Hawking radiation. While it's mostly true ...

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