This time, astronomers have mapped the shape of a supermassive vortex in the host galaxy IRAS 13224-3809.
Which is located in the Centaurus constellation approximately one billion light-years from Earth. To achieve this, the researchers observed one of the longest black holes at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory.
This is how accumulation works: As matter in space is pulled into a black hole, it reaches such a high speed that matter moves up and down, millions of degrees (and even that higher temperature).
This overheated vortex generates radiation, which can be detected by space telescopes as X-rays collide and bounce off gas particles near the whirlpool. Artist’s impression of the black hole that is fed by ambient gas with corona fluctuations.
By looking at those interactions, scientists say they are similar to how we can hear sounds in a cell and how sound recombination can inform us about the shape and structure of 3D spaces. reveal ‘light echoes’. Obsolete form of supermassive black hole.
“Similarly, we can see how the geometry of a field and a state of matter echo X-ray radiation in the vicinity of a black hole before it emerges,” said astrophysicist William Alston of the University of Cambridge.
A technique called X-ray gathering mapping is not new, but it is evolving. Captured during 16 spacecraft orbits from 2011 to 2016, Alston and his team’s light echo readings came over 23 days of looking into space at the heart of IRAS 13224-3809.
As he did so, he saw something he wasn’t expecting: the corona of a black hole, a super hot electron sphere that hovered over the object’s accretion disk, burst dramatically over time, with its brightness only in 50 hours. Varying by a factor.
As the shape of the crown changes, the light echoes: if the cathedral ceiling moves up and down a bit, the resonance of his voice is changing,” says Alston.
By tracking the echoes of light.
We were able to track this changing corona and, even more excitingly, we got much better values for the mass and spin of the black hole that we could determine if the corona size was not changing.
Although this vision of the IRAS 13224-3809 supermassive black hole may be unprecedented in terms of detailed mapping, the external state of achievement may not last long.
The researchers now hope to use the same method to examine and map the black hole physics of many other distant galaxies. Hundreds of supermassive black holes are already within XMM-Newton’s long gaze.
And even more so when ESA’s Athena satellite (slated for 2031) will launch.
In fact, everyone wanders around to tell us what remains to be seen, but it certainly seems like we’re on the verge of some incredible discoveries here.
This work shows quite clearly that the future of studying black holes is very different,” says astronomer Matthew Middleton of the University of Southampton in Britain, depending on how they vary.
It will focus on a series of new missions to be launched in the next 10 years, ushering in a new era of understanding of these strange objects. The findings are exposed in Nature Astronomer.