Ring Around the Black HoleRegardless of size, black holes easily acquire accretion disks. Supermassive black holes can feast on the bountiful interstellar gas in galactic nuclei. Small black holes formed from collapsing stars often belong to binary systems in which a bulging companion star can spill some of its gas into the black hole s reach. In the chaotic mess of the accretion disk, atoms collide with one another. Swirling plasma reaches speeds upward of 10% that of light and glows brightly in many wavebands, particularly in X-rays. Gas gets blown back by a wind of radiation from the inner disk. New material enters the disks from different directions.
Wanjek, Christopher (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
August 21, 2013
January 1, 2003
Publication: Space Science Reference Guide, 2nd Edition