Scientists have witnessed something from two different telescopes that they have never seen before from a black hole. The NASA astronomers observed something come out of a supermassive black hole for the first time. Supermassive black hole Markarian 335 launched its corona away, which sent a massive wave of x-ray energy spewing from the black hole. Scientists say that this may be proof that black holes are the source of some of the brightest objects in our solar system and are capable of far more than just sucking in everything around them.
Tech Insider reports that scientists were shocked when they witnessed a supermassive black hole shooting out x-ray energy at a rate that could rival the energy output of 100 stars. It was noted that astronomers used special telescopes from projects Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, to make the observation. The amazing display followed the black hole shooting away a portion of its corona, a hot plasma layer that surrounds the black hole.
Though this is the first time that scientists have observed the phenomena, they have long suspected that the black holes’ coronas played a role in x-ray flashes but have never witnessed the flashes being made. In fact, prior to the observation of the supermassive black hole Markarian 335, scientists had only ever noted x-ray flashes long after they originated. Therefore, it was only a speculation that those flashes were created by the black holes within the galaxy.
Now, for the first time, scientists have proof of the phenomena. According to Astronomy Magazine, the odd behaviors of black holes are becoming a little clearer to scientists following the rare witnessing of a giant eruption of x-ray light from the Markarian 335 black hole. The astronomers have concluded based on their observations that black holes produce x-ray flares when their surrounding corona collapses and is launched into space. In the Markarian 335 flare, the corona collapsed and was jettisoned into space at a speed that was 20 percent the speed of light.
It was noted that though black holes themselves don’t give off light, the supermassive black holes are often encircled by layers of glowing hot plasma. The plasma shroud is the result of nearby gasses being pulled away from stars into the extreme gravity of the black hole. The gasses are heated and result in the plasma to surround the black hole. This shroud of plasma is known as the corona. However, as scientists previously suspected, sometimes the black hole would start to pull in parts of the corona to its center. For a reason still not fully known, the black hole then creates a jet that forces the corona to propel outward at a high rate of speed. This particular propulsion sent the corona spewing from the black hole at a rate that was determined to be 20 percent of the speed of light.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory notes that the lead author of the new paper, Dan Wilkins of Saint Mary’s University, is excited about the discovery, as it will allow scientists to explore the possibility that the corona was beginning to form at the base of the jet before it collapsed.
“The corona gathered inward at first and then launched upwards like a jet. We still don’t know how jets in black holes form, but it’s an exciting possibility that this black hole’s corona was beginning to form the base of a jet before it collapsed.”
Wilkins also notes that the research will provide a better understanding of how black holes actually help power some of the brightest objects in our universe despite being void of light themselves.
“This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe.”
What do you think about the latest supermassive black hole discovery? Did you know that black holes could expel x-rays instead of just sucking them in?
[Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech]