Astronomers said on Thursday they had detected a bubble of hot gas that rotates clockwise around the black hole at the center of our galaxy at a “mind-blowing” speed.
The detection of the bubble, which lasted only a few hours, is hoped to provide insight into how these invisible, insatiable galactic monsters work.
The first image of Sagittarius A* was released in May by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which links radio dishes around the world that aim to detect light as it disappears. lost in the black holes.
Maciek Wielgus, an astrophysicist at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, said one of those dishes, the ALMA radio telescope in the Chilean Andes mountains, picked up something “real” incomprehension”.
Wielgus told AFP just minutes before ALMA’s radio data collection began, the Chandra Space Telescope observed a “massive spike” in the X-rays.
This burst of energy, thought to be similar to the rays of the sun on Sunsent a bubble of hot gas swirling around the black hole, according to a new source research published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
A gas bubble, also known as a hot spot, has an orbit similar to MercuryWielgus, lead author of the study said the trip around the Sun.
But while Mercury took 88 days to make that trip, the bubble made it in just 70 minutes. That means it moves at a speed of about 30 percent of light.
“So it’s a complete bubble, ridiculously fast,” says Wielgus, calling it “mind blowing.”
A MAD Theory
Scientists were able to track the bubble through their data for about an hour and a half – it is unlikely to have existed for more than a few orbits before it was destroyed.
Wielgus said the observation supported a theory known as MAD. “MAD is like crazy, but also MAD is like magnetically captured discs,” he said.
The phenomenon is said to occur when there is a magnetic at the mouth of a black hole that prevents matter from being sucked in.
But the problem continued to pile up, forming a “flux eruption”, Wielgus said, which disrupted the magnetic fields and caused an explosion. energy.
By understanding how these magnetic fields work, scientists hope to build a model of the forces that drive black holes, which have remained shrouded in mystery.
Magnetic fields can also help indicate the rotation rates of black holes – this could be especially interesting for Sagittarius A*.
While Sagittarius A* has 4 million times the mass of our Sun, it only shines with the power of about 100 suns,” which is extremely less impressive for a supermassive black hole, Wielgus said.
“It’s the weakest supermassive black hole we’ve ever seen in the universe – we only see it because it’s so close to us.”
But perhaps it’s a good thing that our galaxy has a “starving black hole” at its center, Wielgus said.
“Living next to you quasars“something that could shine with the power of billions of suns,” would be a terrible thing, “he added.