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IGR J17091-3624: NASA'S Chandra Finds Fastest Wind From Stellar-Mass Black Hole
IGR J17091-3624

  • Chandra observations have found the fastest wind ever coming from a disk around a stellar-mass black hole.

  • This record breaking wind is about 20 million miles per hour - about 3% the speed of light.

  • This wind may be carrying away much more material than the black hole is actually capturing.

This artist's impression shows a binary system containing a stellar-mass black hole called IGR J17091-3624, or IGR J17091 for short. The strong gravity of the black hole, on the left, is pulling gas away from a companion star on the right. This gas forms a disk of hot gas around the black hole, and the wind is driven off this disk.

New observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have clocked the fastest wind ever seen blowing off a disk around this stellar-mass black hole. Stellar-mass black holes are born when extremely massive stars collapse and typically weigh between five and 10 times the mass of the Sun.

The record-breaking wind is moving about twenty million miles per hour, or about three percent the speed of light. This is nearly ten times faster than had ever been seen from a stellar-mass black hole, and matches some of the fastest winds generated by supermassive black holes, objects millions or billions of times more massive.

Another unanticipated finding is that the wind, which comes from a disk of gas surrounding the black hole, may be carrying away much more material than the black hole is capturing.

The high speed for the wind was estimated from a spectrum made by Chandra in 2011. A spectrum shows how intense the X-rays are at different energies. Ions emit and absorb distinct features in spectra, which allow scientists to monitor them and their behavior. A Chandra spectrum of iron ions made two months earlier showed no evidence of the high-speed wind, meaning the wind likely turns on and off over time.

Fast Facts for IGR J17091-3624:
Credit  Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss
Release Date  February 21, 2012
Category  Black Holes
Coordinates (J2000)  RA 17h 09m 07.92s | Dec -36° 24´ 25.20"
Constellation  Scorpius
Observation Date  2 pointings on Aug 1 and Oct 6, 2011
Observation Time  16 hours 40 min
Obs. ID  12405, 12406
Instrument  ACIS
References King, A. et al, 2012, ApJ, 746, L20; arXiv:1112.3648
Distance Estimate  About 28,000 light years
distance arrow
Visitor Comments (12)

That poor star is doomed to stay locked in with the black hole, which means the star will continue to lose all of its material. Now imagine if their was life on that star. So long, goodbye.

Posted by Michael Amato on Thursday, 10.8.15 @ 17:08pm

Do you happen to have a value for the apparent magnitude of this DSO?

Posted by Micah Alma Cloward on Friday, 11.9.12 @ 18:43pm

Dear Walter,
Thanks for your questions. In this case the star got too close to the black hole, since the latter is effectively fixed in the middle of the galaxy.
-P. Edmonds, CXC

Posted by P. Edmonds on Friday, 11.9.12 @ 11:25am

My wonderment is did the star get too close to the black hole or did the black hole get too close to the star? Black hole, worm hole fixed in place ? Warndering Stella? Perhaps an occilating universe. Walter s vieira

Posted by Walter s vieira on Saturday, 10.13.12 @ 21:04pm

Oh what God has made to keep our brains active.

Posted by Jack Wolf on Thursday, 10.11.12 @ 15:53pm

I would imagine its a sling-shot affect as the black-hole and the star orbit each other. The matter gets pulled off the start at such an angle that most of the matter enters a sling-shot path running close to the event horizon which would allow it to accelerate up to such a high velocity.

Also it may be absorbing some of the Hawking radiation of the black hole which would further increase it's velocity. I believe that the more matter a black hole has near the event horizon, the more hawking radiation that is produced.

Posted by Steven Lockey on Sunday, 09.30.12 @ 11:19am

Where can I get more information to read about the stellar size black hole? Very interesting

Posted by Freda on Wednesday, 09.26.12 @ 14:39pm

Why does the milky way galaxy's nuclear bulge contain so many red giants and super giants?

Posted by SAUL GILLIS on Tuesday, 09.4.12 @ 15:20pm

Learn how to control gravity and you shall proceed through universe.The only way through for every particle in this universe.

Posted by unknown on Thursday, 08.16.12 @ 20:44pm

I am the one and only retired planner from that program; spent three wonderful years developing and then actually delivering our system to Huntsville. It is awesome to know that I contributed so much to Chandra's upbringing! NASA blood still runs thru my veins! Steve Murray was our team leader at that time - I remember holding the flash light deep into the nightime.

Posted by Gene Talford on Monday, 02.27.12 @ 15:29pm

What is causing the stellar wind in this case...the companion star or the Black Hole itself?

A very interesting article, thanks.

Marvin L. S.

Posted by Marvin L. S. on Saturday, 02.25.12 @ 19:24pm

The information that is given here is amazing.
keep it up with this good work.

Posted by Sumit Kashyap on Friday, 02.24.12 @ 12:13pm

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Press Room: IGR J17091-3624
Blog: IGR J17091-3624
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