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A group of Australian astronomers have found that some black
holes are bright pink!

Black holes have captured the imagination of the public over the years
with some popular depictions in science fiction movies. They have such 
intense gravity fields that they even suck in light. This is why they appear 
black but Dr Paul Francis, a lecturer at the Australian National University, 
together with Dr Rachel Webster and Dr Michael Drinkwater, from the 
University of Melbourne's School of Physics have discovered that some 
black holes are pink in colour.

The "Pink holes" were discovered using telescopes at Parkes and
Coonabarabran in the western plains of NSW between 1994 and 1998. 
The work will be presented at the "Fresh Science" Conference in 

"These pink things were quite easy to find" said Dr Francis. "The hard
bit was proving that they are black holes. These black holes are more
than a billion light-years away, and are more than one hundred thousand 
times fainter than the human eye can see. It took the combined power of four of Australia's best telescopes to identify what they were."

How could a black hole be pink? "We really don't have the foggiest idea" 
said Dr Francis. "We're pretty certain that it isn't the black holes 
themselves that are pink, the pink light is actually coming from gas just 
outside the black hole. We think that these black holes live in the middle 
of galaxies, and they are devouring anything that comes near them. 
Possibly as the mangled remains of space matter, stars and gas clouds
swirl down the throat of the black holes, they emit an intense pink light."

It is well known that massive black holes devour stars and gas. Black
holes like this are called quasars, and were first discovered in the
1960s."Until now", Dr Francis said, "only blue quasars had been seen,
and it was believed that the debris swirling around black holes should
emit only blue light, not pink."

So what is different about these pink quasars? "We're don't really know" 
said Dr Francis. "But we are beginning to suspect that the debris swirling 
around the black holes is acting as a vast natural radio transmitter, 
broadcasting intense pink light to the universe."

For further information contact Niall Byrne, Media Liaison, at
ScienceNOW! In Melbourne on 0417 131 977, email niall@byc.com.au, 
or Dr Paul Francis, (02) 6249-2824 (w), (02) 6257-9263 (h) Photos and
background information will be available on the website from the day
of presentation on www.asnevents.net.au/sciencenow


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