The Universe

Black Holes

What happens if a spinning black hole has electrical charge?

When charged particles spin around and around, electromagnetic fields are produced. Since black holes contain large amounts of mass in small volumes, the speed of the spin can be enormous, and the density of the electrical charge can be enormous as well. The combination produces some of the strongest magnetic fields anywhere in the universe.

In this situation, when matter falls toward the black hole, it not only gets super-hot but also supermagnetized. While much of the falling material disappears into the black hole never to be seen again, some of it will be channeled into the magnetic fields and fired outward along superpowerful, magnetically focused jets. Depending on how massive and strongly charged the black hole is, these jets could propel matter into space at 99 percent the speed of light or more and extend for thousands or even millions of light-years. These relativistic jets emanating from black hole systems are some of the most dramatic structures in the cosmos.


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