Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 565 Issue 7738, 10 January 2019

Evolution of a black hole

The cover image shows an artist’s impression of a black hole that has started to accrete material from a nearby star. The properties of accretion flow for a stellar-mass black hole can change on a timescale of days to months. When the black hole ‘turns on’ after accreting material it has a hard (high-energy) X-ray spectrum that is produced by the hot corona (shown in blue) above its accretion disk (yellow). It then changes to a soft (lower-energy) spectrum that is dominated by emissions from the accretion disk. But whether it is a change in disk’s radius or a reduction in the corona that drives this transition has been an open question. In this week’s issue, Erin Kara and her colleagues provide results that may help to settle the debate. The researchers studied a newly identified black hole transient and followed its evolution using instruments on the International Space Station. They found over the course of the hole’s evolution from hard to soft emissions, the corona contracts but the inner edge of the accretion disk stays in the same place.

Cover image: Aurore Simonnet

This Week

News in Focus





    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    A technique called reverberation mapping has previously been used to probe the structure of matter around supermassive black holes. Observations suggest that this technique can also be applied to much smaller black holes.

    • Daryl Haggard
  • News & Views |

    A computational strategy has delivered a redesigned, more stable version of a cytokine protein that mimics the natural protein’s interactions with receptors, opening the way for designer cytokine-based therapeutics.

    • E. Yvonne Jones
  • News & Views |

    Scenarios have been discovered in which it is impossible to prove whether or not a machine-learning algorithm could solve a particular problem. This finding might have implications for both established and future learning algorithms.

    • Lev Reyzin
  • News & Views |

    Some fat cells convert energy into heat, so targeting them to induce weight loss is appealing. The discovery that a subset of the cells burns glucose, rather than both glucose and lipids, could improve our ability to do just that.

    • Wenfei Sun
    • Christian Wolfrum
  • News & Views |

    A technically challenging analysis has revealed the physical properties of a mineral at pressures and temperatures as high as those in Earth’s mantle. The findings have implications for our understanding of Earth’s deep interior.

    • Johannes Buchen
  • News & Views |

    How Nature reported psychometric testing in 1919, and its own hundredth anniversary in 1969.

  • News & Views |

    Clinical trials reveal that personalized vaccines can boost immune-cell responses to brain tumours that don’t usually respond to immunotherapy. The findings also point to how to improve such treatments.

    • Neeha Zaidi
    • Elizabeth M. Jaffee
  • Articles

  • Article |

    A hyper-stable de novo protein mimic of interleukin-2 computationally designed to not interact with a regulatory T-cell specific receptor subunit has improved therapeutic activity in mouse models of melanoma and colon cancer.

    • Daniel-Adriano Silva
    • Shawn Yu
    • David Baker
  • Article |

    The cryo-electron microscopy structure of human γ-secretase in complex with its substrate Notch reveals pronounced structural rearrangements compared to the apo enzyme, including formation of a β-sheet involving residues from both enzyme and substrate.

    • Guanghui Yang
    • Rui Zhou
    • Yigong Shi
  • Letters

  • Letter |

    Observations at millimetre wavelengths reveal a young protostar surrounded by a disk with two differently tilted regions.

    • Nami Sakai
    • Tomoyuki Hanawa
    • Satoshi Yamamoto
  • Letter |

    Femtosecond time-resolved X-ray diffraction reveals that in the ultrafast demagnitization of ferromagnetic iron, about 80% of the angular momentum lost from the spins is transferred to the lattice on a sub-picosecond timescale.

    • C. Dornes
    • Y. Acremann
    • S. L. Johnson
  • Letter |

    Analyses of over 700,000 satellite images to map the global extent of tidal flats over the past thirty years, and enable assessments of the status and likely future trajectories of these coastal ecosystems.

    • Nicholas J. Murray
    • Stuart R. Phinn
    • Richard A. Fuller
  • Letter |

    Isolates of the Vibrio cholerae O1 serotype Ogawa from Yemen are from a single sublineage of the seventh pandemic El Tor (7PET) lineage and are susceptible to several commonly used antibiotics as well as to polymyxins.

    • François-Xavier Weill
    • Daryl Domman
    • Marie-Laure Quilici
  • Letter |

    Neoantigen-targeting vaccines are a feasible therapy for tumours with a low mutation burden and immunologically ‘cold’ tumour microenvironment, as neoantigen-specific T cells from the peripheral blood migrate into intracranial glioblastoma, thereby altering the immune milieu of the glioblastoma.

    • Derin B. Keskin
    • Annabelle J. Anandappa
    • David A. Reardon
  • Letter |

    Allele-specific single-cell RNA sequencing provides insights into transcription kinetics, with data indicating that core promoter sequences affect burst size, whereas enhancers mainly affect burst frequency.

    • Anton J. M. Larsson
    • Per Johnsson
    • Rickard Sandberg

Amendments & Corrections

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing


Quick links