Black hole causes distant galaxy to ‘hiccup’

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Co-authors of the international study on the “hiccuping” galaxy, published last week in the journal Science Advances, include experts from various institutions.

And this includes Petra Sukova and Vladimír Karas from the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Michal Zajaček from the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Masaryk University in Brno and Vojtěch Witzany from the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of Charles University in Prague.

For about four months, she let out a wad of gas once every 8.5 days before settling back into a normal, calm state

Astronomers from the USA, the Czech Republic and Italy first noticed that a previously calm black hole, which is located in the center of a galaxy about 800 million light-years away, suddenly flared up.

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For about four months, she let out a wad of gas once every 8.5 days before settling back into a normal, calm state. This is unprecedented behavior.

Americans came across Czech work

When scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States were looking for an explanation for the observed phenomenon, they came across the recent work of a team from the Czech Republic led by Petra Suková from the Academy of Sciences.

Independently of observations, Czech astrophysicists came up with a model in which the central supermassive black hole of the galaxy is orbited by a second, smaller one.

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“This smaller black hole moves on an inclined path at a certain angle to the accretion disk of its larger companion, repeatedly passing through it and disrupting it,” Suková described.

At least 100 times more massive than our Sun

The domestic team then compared the results of the numerical simulations with the observed data. His findings supported the theory that the observed dips in X-ray intensity were likely a trace of a second, smaller black hole orbiting the central supermassive black hole, periodically puncturing its disk.

“Based on more detailed calculations, we found that in order for the ejected gas clumps to be large enough to cause the observed absorption, the smaller black hole must have a mass of at least 100 times the mass of the Sun,” stated Michal Zajaček from Masaryk University.

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Photo: Jose-Luis Olivares and Dheeraj Pasham, MIT

An artist’s rendering of the passage of a minor black hole of one hundred to ten thousand solar masses through an accretion disk rotating around the central supermassive black hole

The results of the collaboration enrich the traditional idea of ​​the so-called accretion disks of black holes. Until now, scientists have assumed that these are relatively smooth gaseous bodies that rotate around a central supermassive black hole.

The new results suggest that accretion disks may have a much more diverse structure and may interact with stars and other black holes that collide with the accretion disk.

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“We thought we knew a lot about black holes, but this new phenomenon shows us that they can do a lot more,” noted study author Dheeraj Pasham, a research scientist at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.

“We think there will be quite a lot of such systems in the universe, we just need to make more measurements to discover them,” he added.

The planned first Czech cosmic UV telescope called QUVIK should contribute to the search for similar systems in which a smaller black hole interacts with an accretion disk rotating around a central supermassive black hole.

Brno is the center of the Czech-Slovak space industry. It manufactures nanosatellites, telescopes and satellites

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The article is in Czech

Tags: Black hole distant galaxy hiccup

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