Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Scientists Caught Distant Supermassive Black Hole Burping

Scientists Caught Distant Supermassive Black Hole Burping

"Fortunately, we happened to observe this galaxy in a moment where we could clearly see both events". Scientists consider that the black hole exploded the gas twice because it might have two meals at the same time. Great plumes of gas, matter and radiation can be ejected by black holes, and in fact, scientists theorized that these "burps" ought to come at pretty quick intervals if a black hole is well fed.

Scientists captured images of burping of the black hole and presented it to the American Astronomical Society. While astronomers have predicted such objects can flicker on and off as a result of gas feeding events, this is one of the few times one has been caught in the act.

'If our Milky Way's black hole became active again, we are far enough away from it that we would be fine. They also recently published their findings in The Astrophysical Journal.

Just like normal black holes, they are regions of space-time with gravitational effects so strong that even electromagnetic radiation such as light can not escape from inside of them. For comparison, one light-year is roughly six trillion miles. The inset panel to the right is a four-color image that combines Hubble exposures with Chandra X-ray observations.

So why did the black hole have two separate meals?

The explanation for these gas-feeding events lies in a companion galaxy, which had previously collided with J1354.

A team of researcher found out that the enormous black hole was taking burp.

The team was able to detect a "remnant emission" south of the centre of the galaxy which indicated there had been a black hole feasting event, while another loop of gas north of the galaxy signalled a more recent burp.

"The optical data indicate that, in the past, the supermassive black hole appears to have consumed, or accreted, large amounts of gas while blasting off an outflow of high-energy particles".

"This galaxy really caught us off guard", said study author and University of Colorado Boulder doctoral student Rebecca Nevin.

So, why did this black hole get seconds after its dinner? In 2010 another research team discovered a Milky Way belch using observations from the orbiting Fermi Gamma-ray Observatory to look at the galaxy edge on. She added that if our solar system was close to the black hole than it would be hazardous for us.

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