Saturday 30 July 2016
facebook.com/Outlookindia twitter.com/outlookindia digimag.outlookindia.com instagram.com/outlookindia youtube.com/user/OutlookMagazine

NASA Telescope Sees Rare Blurring of Black Hole Light

Washington

NASA's black-hole hunting telescope has captured an extreme and rare event in the regions immediately surrounding a super massive black hole.

A compact source of X-rays that sits near the black hole, called the corona, has moved closer to the black hole over a period of just days.

"The corona recently collapsed in towards the black hole, with the result that the black hole's intense gravity pulled all the light down onto its surrounding disk, where material is spiralling inward," said Michael Parker of the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, UK, lead author of the research paper.

As the corona shifted closer to the black hole, the gravity of the black hole exerted a stronger tug on the X-rays emitted by it.

The result captured by the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) was an extreme blurring and stretching of the X-ray light. Such events had been observed previously, but never to this degree and in such detail.

Supermassive black holes are thought to reside in the centres of all galaxies. Some are more massive and rotate faster than others.

The black hole, referred to as Markarian 335, or Mrk 335, is about 324 million light-years from Earth in the direction of the Pegasus constellation.

It is one of the most extreme of the systems for which the mass and spin rate have ever been measured.

The black hole squeezes about 10 million times the mass of our Sun into a region only 30 times the diameter of the Sun, and it spins so rapidly that space and time are dragged around with it.

Even though some light falls into a super massive black hole never to be seen again, other high-energy light emanates from both the corona and the surrounding accretion disk of superheated material.

Though astronomers are uncertain of the shape and temperature of coronas, they know that they contain particles that move close to the speed of light.

NASA's Swift satellite has monitored Mrk 335 for years, and recently noted a dramatic change in its X-ray brightness.

In what is called a target-of-opportunity observation, NuSTAR was redirected to take a look at high-energy X-rays from this source in the range of 3 to 79 kiloelectron volts.

This particular energy range offers astronomers a detailed look at what is happening near the event horizon, the region around a black hole from which light can no longer escape gravity's grasp.

The findings appear in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

READ MORE IN:
TAGS: SpaceNASA
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 17 August, 2014
© Copyright PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of any PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Download the Outlook ​Magazines App. Six magazines, wherever you go! Play Store and App Store

Post a Comment

You are not logged in, please Log in or Register
  • Daily Mail
THE LATEST ISSUE
CLICK IMAGE FOR CONTENTS
OUTLOOK ON TWITTER
Quiz
Kashmir has been the scene for massive protests following the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani on July 8. “Non-lethal” pellet guns used against the protesters have blinded many and 45-odd people have died in the face-off against security forces. The scale of protests have led to frayed tempers in the mainland with many resorting to high-voltage jingoism. But how well do you know Kashmir? Find out, take this quiz.
QUIZ STARTED ON: Jul 25, 2016
Advertisement