July 16, 2024

Astronomers observe a black hole feeding for the first time

Astronomers observe a black hole feeding for the first time

Matter very close to the black hole is sucked in first and then absorbed as well. But exactly what happens when the gases gathering around a black hole are sucked in has not yet been observed. Black holes are space phenomena that are difficult to study.

They have such a strong gravity that even light cannot leave their interior. In a study conducted in Science magazine publishedJapanese scientists are now publishing their first observation. They were able to determine that a significant portion of the gases had been “spit out” again.

A radio telescope on Earth provides new insights

Scientists achieved this observation not using the James Webb telescope orbiting in space, but using the ALMA radio telescope located in the Chilean desert. With this telescope, they detected the presence of a black hole in the Circinus galaxy, which is relatively close to our Milky Way galaxy, at a distance of 13 million light-years.

The telescope is capable of detecting wavelengths in the sub-millimeter range. The researchers obtained unprecedented images from the immediate vicinity of the singularity, and discovered that only about three percent of the molecular gas swirling around the black hole actually falls into it, while the rest is ejected again.

The fact that scientists have been able to observe the movement of gases at all is that they reach such high speeds near the black hole that their particles collide, heat up and emit extremely bright light. After entering the black hole, it is thrown out again in the form of multi-phase gas, where a large portion collects again in the so-called accretion disk and the process begins again.

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The accretion disk orbits a massive body and moves the material accumulating there farther and farther toward its center. Outside the scientific world, she is best known for her illustrations of giant cosmic vortexes around a black hole.

Black holes are like fountains

Scientists working with Takuma Izumi of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan compare the process they have now observed to a fountain in which a pump first sucks in water and then pushes it out again, whereupon the process begins again.

Like a magazine Cosmos reportsIzumi says “The discovery of accretion flows and outflows in a region just a few light-years away from an actively growing supermassive black hole” is nothing less than “a monumental achievement in the history of research into supermassive black holes.” In other black holes in a similar way to investigate in order to gain further insight.

Now take a look at the most beautiful images from the James Webb Telescope in our photo gallery:

James Webb Telescope: The most beautiful images and their meaning

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