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Space

The Mystery of the Naked Black Hole (sciencemag.org) 81

sciencehabit writes: Most, if not all, galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centers surrounded by dense clouds of stars. Now, researchers have found one that seems to have lost almost its entire entourage. The team, which reported its find at the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society, says it doesn't know what stripped the stars away. But it has put forward a tantalizing possibility: The object could be an extremely rare medium-sized black hole, which theorists have predicted but observers have never seen.
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The Mystery of the Naked Black Hole

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  • FTFY (Score:4, Funny)

    by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @11:41AM (#51248649)

    The object could be a black hole, which theorists have predicted but observers have never seen.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well they went IN and found endless bookcases

      So there is a possibility that the phenomenon we know of as black holes are actually IKEA

    • Observers have recorded beyond doubt that there are regions of space where vast amounts of matter are packed into a small volume, achieving a density which no other theory than a black hole could explain. That's as good as seeing it.
      • Observers have recorded beyond doubt that there are regions of space where vast amounts of matter are packed into a small volume, achieving a density which no other theory than a black hole could explain. That's as good as seeing it.

        From most of what I've read, observers have recorded beyond doubt that there are regions of space that show effects (such as high amounts of acceleration) that no other accepted theory than a black hole could explain.

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Those observers haven't seen the way some of these low-budget house moving companies pack stuff up.

      • Also recorded is a spot in the center of the Milky Way galaxy where stars orbit at millions of miles per hour. It is a simple matter of mechanics to calculate how big the center something must be to cause stars to travel at such high rates of speed. Yet it is not emitting light as a conventional star would. Large, black and acting as we have predicrted. Q.E.D.
  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @11:41AM (#51248659) Homepage
    The black hole lost its entire entourage because it ran out of money. All that white dust for non-stop parties don't come cheap.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @11:50AM (#51248737) Homepage

    Man, that title sounds like a cross between a Nancy Drew book and some really bad porn.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      With only one Nancy Drew, but two Hardy Boys plus Drew's ostensible boyfriend Ned Nickerson, even without the title you're already a good part of the way there...
    • Man, that title sounds like a cross between a Nancy Drew book and some really bad porn.

      I know, right??

      There's no way that one wasn't deliberate. Guess it's effective as click-bait, though, 'cause here we are...

    • I was disappointed with Naked Lunch, so I didn't get my hopes too high this time.

  • confusing title (Score:5, Informative)

    by ooloorie ( 4394035 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @12:05PM (#51248853)
    A "naked singularity" is usually what people call a black hole without an event horizon, an object that's pretty important in theoretical physics. Calling something a "naked black hole" is kind of confusing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
    • Well, given that most people don't know the term singularity, you can safely assume that they used the word black hole so people would know what they were talking about.

      It's the layman's term, but it isn't confusing.

      • That's why a good editor would say:

        A naked singularity, or a black hole without surrounding mass, was...

        • by Anonymous Coward

          A naked singularity, or a black hole without surrounding mass, was...

          A "black hole without surrounding mass" is not a "naked singularity". A "naked singularity" is a "black hole without an event horizon". A "naked black hole" is not a technical term, but a physicist would assume that it is a colloquial way of referring to a "naked singularity". The term "naked" never appears in the scientific paper; it's something the journalist made up, and the journalist apparently wasn't aware of the physical use of

        • No, a good editor isn't going to put such rubbish into a headline.

          This was the headline in both TFS, and TFA.

          If every headline (by which we mean the brief title at the beginning of a story (by which we mean an article or essay)) is going to provide the reader (by which we mean the intended audience), with a fully expanded (by which we mean explain in more detail) version of every word used in the headline (see above) to convey more information (by which we mean clarify) ... then not a single article would

        • Kewl sig.

      • Re:confusing title (Score:5, Informative)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday January 06, 2016 @12:35PM (#51249093) Homepage

        You totally missed the person's point. It's not about using the word "black hole" when they should have used the term "singularity" (note: black hole and singularity are not synonyms). It's that a "naked singularity" is a very specific term, and it doesn't mean "a black hole not surrounded by stars" - it means a black hole without an event horizon. This is an important concept in physics because there's a number of situations that seem like they should be able to produce one (such as strongly rotating black holes), but if you had one, relativity would break down near it. The event horizon in a black hole "protects" our universe from the effects of any weirdness inside the hole (such as a singularity, if they actually do exist), but with a naked singularity you have no such "protection". The concept exposes an area of weakness in our current understanding of physics.

        Calling a black hole without stars a "naked black hole" would be like calling a jacket made out of a very transparent plastic an "invisibility cloak". It's using words that can be seen to make sense (you can't see it, so it's an invisibility cloak!), but it gives readers the totally wrong impression of what is being discussed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gstoddart ( 321705 )

          You totally missed the person's point.

          No, I didn't miss it, it's a stupid point.

          It's that a "naked singularity" is a very specific term

          Which would have no meaning to the intended audience.

          This is an important concept in physics

          And is, again, too fine of a distinction for the target audience to shove into the headline.

          It's using words that can be seen to make sense (you can't see it, so it's an invisibility cloak!), but it gives readers the totally wrong impression of what is being discussed.

          As opposed to,

          • When you get divorced, are you suddenly always called naked?

            Naked is entirely not the correct word to use, and is even more inappropriate because a naked singularity is something in physics, and has nothing to do with companions of the black hole.

            You totally missed the person's point.

            No, I didn't miss it, it's a stupid point.

            If you didn't miss the point, why are you arguing against something that wasn't said?

        • And you have it wrong as well when you say:

          ...it means a black hole without an event horizon.

          Quoting from wiki [wikipedia.org]:
          In general relativity, a naked singularity is a gravitational singularity without an event horizon.

          Notice there is no linking of "black hole" with "naked singularity". Nor can there be, as one has to have an event horizon, while the other has to not have an event horizon.

      • Well, it seems you at least got confused by it.
        Because they actually mean the black hole, without stuff floating around it, thus 'naked', not the singularity.

  • Occasionally we have seen stars that have been ejected from their galaxies. This can happen during galaxy mergers.

    How do we not know that this is just a massive star that turned into a black hole after it got ejected from its original galaxy? After all massive stars do not last that long because of their size.

    • by Ranbot ( 2648297 )

      How do we not know that this is just a massive star that turned into a black hole after it got ejected from its original galaxy?

      Agreed. If I may add to what you're saying, it's possible an ejected star formed a black hole in a region of space with very little matter around it and then drifted towards the larger black hole; not that the larger black hole stripped matter away from the smaller. There's also plenty of documentation of "rouge" stars drifting in the empty space between galaxies, so it's a reasonable guess that there are also "rouge" black holes too.

      To be fair the article does say, "But perhaps it just started out with few

  • That would make a good porn title.

  • Maybe the answer is that there weren't many stars there to start out with. Why assume they have been "stripped" away? We barely know anything about black holes. Since they are so far away we can never get close enough to them to study them effectively. We can only guess. This will be a mystery forever.
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      The abundance of mass in the center of a galaxy is pretty much the reason that there is a black hole in the center to begin with. It would be odd for all of that mass to have either been hoovered in or stripped away normally. Generally it would be much like a planetary system, most mass makes up the central object, but there's always leftover mass that becomes planets or asteroids, or in the case of this much matter, becomes stars in stable orbit around a central black hole.

      Once in established orbits, the

      • Unless this is a type of black hole that formed a different way from the way we believe black holes to be formed.
  • I read the headline, and got very excited thinking that someone had found a naked singularity, it should have been re-worded to say, The Mystery of the Black Hole with Middle aged spread or something. Finding a intermediate sized Black hole is interesting, but not quite as exciting as a naked singularity would have been. To be fair to /. Sciencemag came up with the title, not the editors!

  • Else we would have been fried by radiation if it wasnt. We know we have a BH or a modest size from fast moving stars near it.
  • "The object could be an extremely rare medium-sized black hole",
    I like my black holes extra medium please.....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Extremely rare medium sized black holes... are those a bit like extremely rare medium sized Americans?

  • It is no naked, there are some gas, that why you can see it en X-rays, but there are less stars. So, its not the black hole, its is something unsual in the stellar dynamics in the surroundings.

  • My first impression on RTFS is that these black holes are quite close together.

    The two black holes, detected by NASAâ(TM)s Chandra X-ray Observatory, are separated by 7000 light-years

    That's right out at the edge of the central bulge (if the galaxy is the same size as the Milky Way.

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