Physics News of the Week: Birth of a Black Hole Captured

| November 24, 2013 | 0 Comments

It’s that time again when we take a look at what’s been going on in the world of science this week. This week, we have some interesting news from astronomers and material scientists. So here’s the summary of these news. Also, to receive these news to your email, register for our email newsletter.

1. Birth of a Black Hole Observed (November 21)

An unusual birth of a black hole (brightest in 20 years) has been recently observed by scientists at Los Alamos. “This was the burst of the century,” said Los Alamos co-author James Wren. “It’s the biggest, brightest one to happen in at least 20 years, and maybe even longer than that.”

What made this event even more unusual was that it was observed by a number of different instruments such as the gamma-ray and X-ray detectors aboard NASA’s Fermi, NuSTAR and Swift satellites. In particular, what scientists were observing was a violent transformation of a star into a black hole yielded an “afterglow” that faded while releasing high energy gamma-rays.

“This afterglow is interesting to see,” said paper co-author Przemek Wozniak of Los Alamos’s Intelligence and Space Research Division. “We normally see a flash associated with the beginning of an event, analogous to the bright flash that you would see coinciding with the explosion of a firecracker. This afterglow may be somewhat analogous to the embers that you might be able to see lingering after your firecracker has exploded. It is the link between the optical phenomenon and the gamma-rays that we haven’t seen before, and that’s what makes this display extremely exciting.”

2. Will 2-D Tin be the Next Super Material (November 21)

According to a team of theoretical physicists from DOE, SLAC and Stanford, 2-D Tin could be the world’s first material to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency at the temperatures that computer chips operate. The new material called “stanene” could potentially revolutionize electronics, as it could increase the speed and lower the power needs of future generations of computer chips. The experiments to test the unique properties of stanene are currently under-way in laboratories all around the world.

3.Black Beauty” Rock Appears to be the Oldest Chunk of Mars (November 21)

A recent article at journal Nature discussed an ancient rock discovered in Sahara Desert, which appears to be the oldest Martian meteorite ever found. The meteorite nicknamed Black Beauty comes from an era when the Red Planet was in its infancy. Most likely Black Beauty landed to Earth after asteroid or comet impacts had dislodged them from the surface of Mars.

The fascinating thing about this rock is that it comes from a very interesting time when Mars had a primordial atmosphere and also a primordial ocean. “This is a very exciting period of time – if there were to be life on Mars, it would have originated at this particular time,” said Prof Munir Humayan — the lead author of the article at Nature.

More news:

Science Shows Why Doctor Who is So Special
Novel X-Ray Device Developed
How Losing Information Can Benefit Quantum Computing

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