Nothing Can Escape a Black Hole (Except Water, Gas, Energetic Particles, and ....) → Washingtons Blog
Nothing Can Escape a Black Hole (Except Water, Gas, Energetic Particles, and ....) - Washingtons Blog

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nothing Can Escape a Black Hole (Except Water, Gas, Energetic Particles, and ....)

Everyone knows that nothing can escape a black hole, right?

Actually, as I noted last year:

Scientists say they have discovered a black hole in a distant galaxy that spouted water in a powerful jet:

Indeed, scientists say that "surveys of ... younger galaxies show that ... about 5% have powerful water masers".
Now, scientists have found a black hole which shoots out jets of gas and highly energetic particles into a neighboring galaxy, speeding up star formation in nearby clouds of matter.


As Wired reports:

Astronomers have spied a distant black hole in the act of creating the galaxy that will eventually become its home.

By sending a jet of gas and highly energetic particles into a neighboring galaxy, the black hole has touched off star formation at a rate 100 times the galactic average.

“Our study suggests that supermassive black holes can trigger the formation of stars, thus ‘building’ their own host galaxies,” David Elbaz, lead author of a paper on the work in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, said in a press release. “This link could also explain why galaxies hosting larger black holes have more stars.”

I am not sure whether the water, gas and particles emanate from inside the black holes themselves, or from right outside the black holes. I haven't interviewed the scientists who made the above-described discoveries. If the later, consider this poetic license.

For more mind-blowing science facts, see:


  1. But you give the impression that the water is being ejected directly from the black hole and that is surely not the case. The BH, or more exactly its event horizon, is emitting radiation (the maser, surely a particular form of Hawkins' radiation), which in turn activates and spreads matter (water) taken from outside the BH.

    At least that's how I understand it on light of current scientific knowledge. Not even the radiation itself is technically being expelled from the BH but from the outer surface its event horizon, probably because it is (it was many billion years ago) devouring some big object (another black hole maybe or just some stars).

    I may be wrong but, while not much seem to be known of these rare megamasers, I have never read anyone saying that the maser or the matter in it is coming from beyond the event horizon breaking the laws of physics. If that would be true we'd be before a fundamental challenge to known science but I've never read any astrophysicist or even pop-science journalist claiming such thing.

    So... "Everyone knows that nothing can escape a black hole, right?"

    Yes and AFAIK there is no reason to think otherwise. A very different thing is that the huge gravitational forces of the black hole can trigger these impressive and creative phenomena with the matter around them.

  2. Oddly enough, I was just having a whinge to a mate at the pub tonight about how suddenly black holes went from mythical objects from which not even light escaped to recorded sightings involving light-long jets of super-energetic matter (decidedly heavier than light).

    Cosmology is not science - there's no way to test any of their fantastic theories. That just makes it fantasy based on vivid imaginations and looking at pretty pictures. And they've been pretty good at making stuff up for the last 30 years.

    As an engineer, when your mathematics has a pole, you don't say 'oh, we suddenly get infinite energy/density/etc' you say 'the model fails to work there so we just ignore it and stay away'. Physicists seem to have forgotten their models are only models and not actual reality and singularities are just limitations of the model.

    Black holes are on the face of it utterly absurd, and eventually science will discard them as they have other false ideas as historical oddities.

  3. @NotZed: you display the engineer archetype mentality in caricaturized manners. It's something like: I cannot touch it then it cannot exist (except "God" I imagine, though on this there may be variability).

    What can I say: ahem. Are you familiar with String Theory? It is a controversial theory but it is also promising and much in the line you criticize, however by studying black holes they have arrived to predictions in the very "engineering" and apparently unrelated field of superconductors.

    I imagine that you would, some decades ago at least, make the same kind of whining about Einstein's general relativity. But reality is that satellites would fall down to Earth if you'd ignore it and that your GPS would not work without taking it into consideration.

  4. Physics is getting weirder and weirder.
    And more fascinating

    Higgs boson, where are you????

  5. All the world's theorists are exactly like Texas liars, each telling their own Tall Texas Tale.

    Successive generations of theorists are merely better, more believable Texas liars, than their historical predecessors.

    Einstein is a collection of lies continually created since long ago when his fame ran away with his own very relative reality.

    It would not be at all surprising that cosmologists have the whole shebang pretty-much backward. It would not be the first time. It will not be the last time.

    Now consider the following anecdotal summary of a story concerning -our relationship as intelligent-human-beings -to THIS infinitely complex reality.

    There once not-too-long-ago was King of Siam -who- when he heard from an Englishman about water turning to ice, decided all Englishmen were habitual liars.

    If you seek truth you will note here, the King of Siam was indeed correct. All Englishmen ARE habitual liars.

    Their lies give the English a fantastic frame of reference in the reality they have created for themselves, a reality that is entirely built upon false assumptions about this infinitely complex reality.

    But the English can afford to be wrong in their assumptions. It sells a lot of books, and, certifies many more experts.

    The most expert witness on Mars at one time, a noted astronomer named -Percival Lowell-, once boldly told very believable stories about Martian canals, and seas.

    And NASA is still looking for mermaids in the water on Mars, even repeatedly publishing stories about having found them for all the science-ninnies; science ninnies, -who- if they are not personally destroying the world, they are busy educating others to do exactly that.

    There is not one ounce of truth in science.

    The continuous history of all the necessary changes to science theories -proves this succinctly.


    In the case of a rotating black hole, there is a distance between the "event horizon" (where nothing that enters will escape) and the "ergosphere" (where you can interact with and extract mass-energy from the black hole).

    One model for quasars is that the matter around a galaxy's central black hole is "spun up" in the ergosphere and ejected, stealing the hole's rotational energy in the process. Once the hole is out of energy, the galactic center quiets down and becomes like ours.

    Oh, and Hawking radiation has nothing to do with it. :)

  7. "Oh, and Hawking radiation has nothing to do with it".

    All right, thanks for the clarification, Victoria. I was unto something but you put it in the right terms. Never heard before of the ergosphere but guess I understood the concept very roughly. Cheers.

  8. I'm no scientist but as I understood it photons actually do escape black holes, its just that the affects of its intense gravity, which can slow time itself, stretch the photons wavelength below the visible spectrum.

    Maybe, in that sense, it is technically correct to say that not even light can escape but not the photon itself which would imply that anything heavier couldn't.

    I'm probably completely wrong though, let me know.


→ Thank you for contributing to the conversation by commenting. We try to read all of the comments (but don't always have the time).

→ If you write a long comment, please use paragraph breaks. Otherwise, no one will read it. Many people still won't read it, so shorter is usually better (but it's your choice).

→ The following types of comments will be deleted if we happen to see them:

-- Comments that criticize any class of people as a whole, especially when based on an attribute they don't have control over

-- Comments that explicitly call for violence

→ Because we do not read all of the comments, I am not responsible for any unlawful or distasteful comments.