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On Nov. 22, 2014, astronomers spotted a rare event in the night sky: A supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy, nearly 300 million light years from Earth, ripping apart a passing star. The event, known as a tidal disruption flare, for the black hole's massive tidal pull that tears a star apart, created a burst of X-ray activity near the center of the galaxy. Since then, a host of observatories have trained their sights on the event, in hopes of learning more about how black holes feed.
Now researchers at MIT and elsewhere have pored through data from multiple telescopes' observations of the event, and discovered a curiously intense, stable, and periodic pulse, or signal, of X-rays, across all datasets. The signal appears to emanate from an area very close to the black hole's event horizon—the point beyond which material is swallowed inescapably by the black hole. The signal appears to periodically brighten and fade every 131 seconds, and persists over at least 450 days.
The researchers believe that whatever is emitting the periodic signal must be orbiting the black hole, just outside the event horizon, near the Innermost Stable Circular Orbit, or ISCO—the smallest orbit in which a particle can safely travel around a black hole.
What she discovered is that under all conditions an object falling into a rotating black hole would not experience infinitely large effects upon passage through the hole's so-called inner horizon singularity. This is the singularity that an object entering a rotating black hole cannot maneuver around or avoid. Not only that, under the right circumstances, these effects may be negligibly small, allowing for a rather comfortable passage through the singularity. In fact, there may no noticeable effects on the falling object at all. This increases the feasibility of using large, rotating black holes as portals for hyperspace travel.
If that were not enough BH news, SMBH have been simulated and when there is no other material, one can traverse one of the singularity points (I did not see mention of the central singularity, so please correct me if I am wrong), without spaghetti-fying yourself or your ship! Just like in the 1979 Disney classic, The Black Hole!! Although I find it hard to go from one speed to 50% the speed of light in less than a second without some kind of physical stress on man or ship!
Observational evidence indicates that all or nearly all massive galaxies contain a supermassive black hole, located at the galaxy's center. In the case of the Milky Way, the supermassive black hole corresponds to the location of Sagittarius A* at the Galactic Core.
"If black holes fit our expectations, the method I have developed will also allow us to quantify how far from these expectations a theory could be and still fit the data. This will hopefully allow us to rule out many other theories," Medeiros says.
"I'm developing tools so we can actually use EHT observations to test whether Sgr A* is described by the Kerr metric," she added.
Medeiros' work is part of the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT, an international collaboration attempting to directly image the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy for the first time.
A black hole can siphon gas from a nearby companion star and into a ring of material called an accretion disk. Gravitational and magnetic forces heat the disk to millions of degrees Celsius, making it hot enough to produce X-rays at the inner parts of the disk, near the black hole. Outbursts occur when an instability in the disk causes a flood of gas to suddenly rush inward toward the black hole, like a gaseous avalanche. Astronomers do not yet understand what causes these disk instabilities.
Above the disk is the corona, a region of subatomic particles heated to 1 billion degrees Celsius that glows in higher-energy X-rays. Many mysteries remain about the origin and evolution of a black hole's corona. Some theories suggest the structure could represent an early form of the high-speed particle jets these types of systems often emit.
Astrophysicists want to better understand how the inner edge of a black hole's accretion disk -- and the corona above it -- change in size and shape as a black hole consumes material from a companion star.
A ricocheting jet blasting from a giant black hole has been captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, as reported in our latest press release. In this composite image of Cygnus A, X-rays from Chandra (red, green, and blue that represent low, medium and high energy X-rays) are combined with an optical view from the Hubble Space Telescope of the galaxies and stars in the same field of view. Chandra's data reveal the presence of powerful jets of particles and electromagnetic energy that have shot out from the black hole. The jet on the left has slammed into a wall of hot gas, then ricocheted to punch a hole in a cloud of energetic particles, before it collides with another part of the gas wall.
On June 17, the ATLAS survey's twin telescopes in Hawaii found a spectacularly bright anomaly 200 million light years away in the Hercules constellation. Dubbed AT2018cow or "The Cow," the object quickly flared up, then vanished almost as quickly.
After combining several imaging sources, including hard X-rays and radiowaves, the multi-institutional team now speculates that the telescopes captured the exact moment a star collapsed to form a compact object, such as a black hole or neutron star. The stellar debris, approaching and swirling around the object's event horizon, caused the remarkably bright glow.
After ATLAS spotted the object, Margutti's team quickly obtained follow-up observations of The Cow with NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and INTEGRAL hard X-ray laboratories, soft X-rays at XMM-Newton and radio antennae at the Very Large Array toward The Cow.
These results were presented at the 233rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, WA,
At the American Astronomical Society's 233rd meeting, which runs through Thursday in Seattle, 10 to 15 percent of the registered participants did not show up in the end, according to organizers—300-450 people out of 3,200.
But 96 percent of NASA staff are considered non-essential, according to Democratic lawmakers. That means 16,700 agency employees have been furloughed until the agency's new budget is approved.
They cannot even attend the winter meeting as a representative via videolink—even if they pay for their travel out of their own pockets.