Tuesday, 16 January, 2018

Scientists catch supermassive black hole burping - twice

Supermassive Black Hole is Caught Letting Out Massive 'Burps' NASA ESA
Sandra Phillips | 13 January, 2018, 05:59

Julie Comerford, an astronomer at the University of Colorado Boulder, has led a team of scientists in analyzing this particular black hole and its two burps. This simply means that one of them was ejected to one side of the black hole, and the other one, which is actually bigger and more compact, got ejected 100 thousand year later, in the other direction.

The team used observations from two space telescopes-the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory-as well as the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and the Apache Point Observatory near Sunspot, New Mexico.

The supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way has had at least one "burp" that we know about, with astronomers detecting indirect signs of an event in 2010.

Scientists presented their research regarding the supermassive black hole burping at the American Astronomical Society's annual meeting in Washington, DC.

"Fortunately, we happened to observe [J1354] at a time when we could clearly see evidence for both events", Comerford added in the statement. Comerford presented the team's findings in a January 11 press briefing at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society held January 8-12 in Washington D.C.

Researchers believe the black hole is behaving this way because it is consuming a huge amount of nearby matter.

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The galaxy under study, known to the researchers as J1354, is about 900 million light-years from Earth.

The explanation for these gas-feeding events lies in a companion galaxy, which had previously collided with J1354.

This may not even be all that rare of an occurrence, if the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy named "SDSS J1354+1327" can be taken as a typical example of these hungry monsters.

According to the theory, there's a period in which black holes would "swallow" the matter, then burp clouds of high-energy particles and then hibernate for a while, according to Comerford. They saw a loop of gas that indicated the more recent belch.

Supermassive black holes have masses greater than one million suns combined and would fit inside a ball with a diameter about the size of the solar system.

"This galaxy really caught us off guard", said Rebecca Nevin, a study co-author and doctoral student at CU Boulder. In the clearest photo of the event, the beginning of a massive burp is seen shooting out of the upper left of the black hole, while the remnants of an older burp can be spotted still dissipating below it.

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