A silent black hole suddenly became one of the brightest objects in the universe

A silent black hole suddenly became one of the brightest objects in the universe


By scouring the cosmos for signs of a rare explosion, scientists have identified a dormant black hole like Gargantua, the black hole from the movie Interstellar, in the early universe that suddenly activated for a blink (on a cosmic scale) of dark matter. It has become one of the brightest objects in the world.

This black hole, named J221951, is estimated to be 10 billion light-years away from Earth. This means that when this cosmic giant turned on its lights, the universe was about a quarter of its current age. Despite this great distance, the black hole was so bright that astronomers initially mistook it for a stellar explosion less than a billion light-years away.

According to the researchers of this study, the high brightness of this black hole from such a distance makes it one of the brightest Transient phenomena (a mass that suddenly lights up and then disappears) that has been detected so far has become The draft of this study, which has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is now available in arXiv Available.

Matt Nicholl, an astronomer at Queen’s University in Belfast, who is one of the authors of the paper, says: “In recent years, our knowledge of the different things that supermassive black holes can do has expanded greatly. “J221951 is one of the strangest examples that surprised us.”

The first surprise was in gravitational wave routing; Rapid perturbations in space-time caused by massive cosmic collisions. Researchers thought that this wave was the result of the collision of two neutron stars; Dense and dead stars that collide to create bright explosions called “kilonovas”.

But this time, even though the wave created in space-time led to a luminous mass, unlike a kilonova, which is initially blue and becomes red after a few days, it remains bright and blue for months. It is longer than expected for a stellar explosion.

PEOPLE’s observations using several telescopes, including NASA’s Hubble Telescope and the Neil Grylls Swift Observatory, showed that the unknown object is located along the distant, faint galactic center and is likely a supermassive black hole like the central black hole of the Milky Way. After shining for 10 months, this object was hidden from view as before, which proves that not the galaxy itself, but a transient phenomenon inside it, suffered a high-energy eruption.

According to the researchers, if J221951 has a supermassive black hole, there are two possible explanations for its bright burst. First, the black hole attracted the star that was orbiting around it, and in this process, which is called the slow collapse or spaghetti event, the star was stretched and separated. The second possibility, which is more ambiguous, is the black hole changing its state from hibernation to greedily feeding on the gas disk that is rapidly rotating around it.

Accurate understanding of the reason for the activation of this black hole requires further study of the output energy of this mass. If the black hole suddenly glows again, it means it is in feeding mode. But if it continues to dim, an unlucky star has probably been swallowed up in the most spectacular way possible. Hoping that we all have such a glorious end.


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