Black hole news: Erupting black hole stuns astronomers – ‘Completely unexpected’ | Science | News


A mysterious black hole at the core of the galaxy GSN 069 has stunned astronomers with its periodic eruptions of X-ray radiation. The active black hole sits an approximate 250 million light-years away, where it acts in a completely “unexpected” fashion. The European Space Agency’s (ESA) X-ray telescope MM-Newton watched the black hole briefly flare on December 24, 2018. The black hole’s brightness rapidly peaked by a factor of 100 before dimming down within one hour.

However, just nine hours later, the process repeated itself when the black hole flared again.

Giovanni Miniutti of the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, Spain, led a study into the bizarre black hole.

He said: “Giant black holes regularly flicker like a candle but the rapid, repeating changes seen in GSN 069 from December onwards are something completely new.”

The findings of the black hole study were published on September 11 in the journal Nature.

READ MORE: Black hole image CONFIRMS 100-year-old cosmic theory

Since the initial discovery was made, the black hole has continued to periodically and steadily flare-up.

The scientists who authored the paper believe the flashes will shed light onto the process behind black holes accreting material around themselves.

Dr Giovanni said: “The X-ray emission comes from material that is being accreted into the black hole and heats up in the process.

“There are various mechanisms in the accretion disc that could give rise to this type of quasi-periodic signal, potentially like to instabilities in the accretion flow close to the central black hole.

READ MORE: 

“Alternatively, the eruptions could be due to the interaction of the disc material with a second body – another black hole or perhaps the remnant of a star previously disrupted by the black hole.”

An accretion disc is a flat structure of stellar gas and dust that orbits a single point of strong gravity like a black hole.

As the accretion disc spins around the black hole, it picks up speed, which translates into heat and X-ray gamma-ray radiation.

Black holes are invisible to the naked eye because their gravitational pull is too strong for even light to escape.

READ MORE:

But astronomers using X-ray observatories and radio telescopes can observe the regions of space and object surrounding them.

Dr Giovanni and his team now believe periodic flashes of radiation like this are a common occurrence throughout the cosmos.

Dr Giovanni said: “We know of many massive black holes whose brightness rises or decays by very large factors within days or months, while we would expect them to vary at a much slower pace.

“But if some of this variability corresponds to the rise or decay phases of eruptions similar to those discovered in GSN 069, then the fast variability of these systems, which appears currently unfeasible, could naturally be accounted for. New data and further studies will tell if this analogy really holds.”



Source link

Ads