Scientists Caught Distant Supermassive Black Hole Burping

Scientists Caught Distant Supermassive Black Hole Burping

While even light can not escape the pull of one of these gravity wells, blacks holes do, very occasionally, "burp" back out chunks of half-consumed gas. "That collision led gas to stream towards the supermassive black hole and feed it two separate meals that led to these two separate burps".

Astronomers have captured burps like these in the past, including one from the Milky Way, but this is the first time a supermassive black hole has been caught burping twice, according to a report in Phys.org.

While astronomers have predicted this type of event before, it has never been observed directly.

Supermassive black holes-which are millions of times heavier than our sun and are believed to be at the heart of virtually every galaxy-are like regular black holes in basic ways: Regions with such strong gravitational effects that nothing, not even light, can escape. They go through occasional feeding episodes where hot cosmic gas gets sucked in and high-energy particles are emitted in the form of jets of bright light.

"We are seeing this object feast, burp, and nap, and then feast and burp once again, which theory had predicted", Julie Comerford of the University of Colorado, who led the study, was quoted in a statement. She said that their team was fortunate enough to observe the galaxy hosting the super massive black hole a t a time when they could clearly see the evidence for both the burping events. Recently, at the American Astronomical Society's winter meeting in National Harbor, Md., outside Washington, D.C, the scientists released the images of the distant black hole.

The black hole emit huge plumes of bright light from the double-burp. The top arrow indicates the newer burp and the bottom arrow the older one
The black hole emit huge plumes of bright light from the double-burp. The top arrow indicates the newer burp and the bottom arrow the older one

Combing images of the J1354 galaxy 800 million light-years away, they found two pools of the particles blasted from a black hole. For comparison, one light-year is roughly six trillion miles. The Apache Point facility is owned by the Astrophysical Research Consortium, a group of 10 US research institutions that includes CU Boulder.

Black holes are the darlings of astrophysicists all over the world.

The explanation for these gas-feeding events lies in a companion galaxy, which had previously collided with J1354. The team concluded that material from the companion galaxy swirled into the center of J1354 and then was eaten by the supermassive black hole. Unfortunately for supermassive black holes, we can still see them belching.

Well, nearly nothing. As it turns out, supermassive black holes aren't always thorough when gobbling up star systems and solar debris.

"This galaxy really caught us off guard", said study author and University of Colorado Boulder doctoral student Rebecca Nevin. "This new burp is actually moving like a shock wave - it's coming out very fast, and so it's kind of like a sonic boom of a burp, whereas the gas to the south shows us an older burp that happens 100,000 years earlier before that newer burp".


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