Black Holes Resemble Fountains Not Donuts: Astronomers

James Marshall
December 5, 2018

They were thought to have the shape of a donut, but it seems that scientists have to rewrite astronomical rulebooks after they found out that black holes actually look like 3D fountains.

The researchers of Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found that the rings of gas surrounding the black holes are not simple donut shapes.

By their definition, black holes are regions of spacetime that possess an incredible gravitational force absorbing everything surrounding them, including light particles. Black holes were believed to take on the shape of a donut.

Everyone knows that black holes are some of the most mysterious entities in the whole universe.

Simulations based on reworked assumptions point to new pictureAdvanced space simulations have revealed that the gas surrounding a supermassive black hole spews out from above and below like a three-dimensional fountain.

Astronomers believe that the materials build up around the active black hole and form a donut structure.

The team then compared their observations to a computer simulation of gas falling towards a black hole made with the Cray XC30 ATERUI supercomputer operated by NAOJ. Now, the latest results are suggesting that the process has three steps.


According to the scientists, black holes do not actually resemble donuts, as it was previously believed, but rather look like big 3D fountains spewing out the gas that surrounds them.

First, the cold gas forms a disk near the plane of rotation, heating up until the molecules break down.

'Previous theoretical models set a prior assumptions of rigid donuts, ' says Keiichi Wada, a theoretician at Kagoshima University in Japan.

Various observational features of the system can also be explained through this simulation, said the researcher.

"By investigating the motion and distribution of both the cold molecular gas and warm atomic gas with ALMA, we demonstrated the origin of the so-called "donut" structure around active black holes", said Izumi.

"Through comparisons with our model predictions based on the radiation-driven fountain scheme, we indicate that atomic outflows are the driver of the geometrical thickness of the atomic disk", Izumi and colleagues wrote in their study, which was published in The Astrophysical Journal on October 30.

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