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Black hole with 'hiccups'

Black hole with 'hiccups'

Researchers at MIT have discovered a black hole with a “hiccup” — a phenomenon that has never been observed before. It releases clouds of gas at regular intervals of 8.5 days before returning to a dormant state. What's behind it?

The basics in a nutshell

  • Researchers at a Boston university are monitoring a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon.

  • The supermassive black hole appears to be experiencing a “hiccup,” according to MIT data.

  • This may be due to the presence of a second, smaller black hole.

Black holes are swallowing space. They are objects in space that compress mass to create gravity so strong that the rocket must move faster than the speed of light to escape the black hole's gravity. The largest representatives of black holes are “supermassive black holes”, which, according to new findings by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), even… “Hiccup” He may have.

“At the heart of a distant galaxy, a supermassive black hole appears to be experiencing a whirlwind,” MIT wrote in a March 27 press release about the startling discovery. Black hole with hiccups?

A supermassive black hole with a tiny companion

In a galaxy about 800 million light-years away, a supermassive black hole is experiencing a “periodic hiccup,” according to data from a research team in Boston. everyone 8.5 days The black hole expels clouds of gas before returning to its normal, calm state. These are the “periodic hiccups” phenomena that researchers in Boston can observe. “I was confused about what this meant, because this pattern didn’t fit with anything we knew about these systems,” recalls Dheeraj Basham, a researcher at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, upon first coming into contact with the measurement. Anomalies in the data.

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Scientists have discovered a massive black hole with a “hiccup” and emitting plumes of gas.© José Luis Olivares, MIT

Black holes have been reported to exhibit such behavior before It was never observed to measureThe team wrote in the journal Science Advances on March 27. As a possible explanation for the behavior, scientists suspect that A The second smaller black hole “Buzzing” around the supermassive black hole. This moves close to the central supermassive black hole and ensures that material is ejected from the gas disk, also called accretion disks, at regular intervals. Accumulation tablets In astrophysics, they refer to a ring orbiting a central body that absorbs matter through the accretion flow and transports it toward the center.

The black hole's “hiccup” behavior could be just the beginning

In 2020, the ASAS-SN telescope network detected the unusual activities of the host galaxy for the first time. One of the explosions made the galaxy noticeably brighter, providing evidence of the black hole's 8.5-day “hiccup” rhythm. “We thought we knew a lot about black holes, but this shows us there are a lot of things they can do,” co-author Bachman says of the study's findings. The theory that the galaxy's central supermassive black hole could host a second, much smaller black hole was previously proposed by a Czech scientist.

However, for MIT astrophysicists, it is clear that discovering the surprising behavior of black holes and supermassive black holes will require further development of the current understanding of these objects. “We think there will be many more systems like this,” Basham said, looking forward to the results. “We just need to collect more data to find them.”

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