April 22, 2024

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The black hole at the heart of our galaxy is 'leaking'

The black hole at the heart of our galaxy is ‘leaking’

Astronomers have found indirect evidence of the appearance of a “mini-jet” from the black hole. With this, evidence is accumulating that the black hole is regularly active.

At the heart of our galaxy, we find a huge black hole weighing four million times the mass of our sun. For a long time, this black hole was believed to be a sleeping giant. But researchers have now discovered a malicious leak, confirming that the black hole may still be waking up every now and then for a late-night snack.

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, the researchers found evidence of a “mini-jet” – a flow of matter – originating from the black hole. This means that the black hole at the heart of our galaxy is somewhat “leaking”. This ray has not been directly imaged, but indirect evidence provides sufficient evidence to confirm its existence. What the space telescope was able to capture in the image is a bright cloud of gas about 15 light-years away, presumably hit by a small invisible plane. This indicates that the plane is pushing weakly toward a huge hydrogen cloud and exploding there, similar to water from a garden hose directed toward a pile of sand.

A sleeping monster… or not?
According to the researchers, this discovery collects evidence that the black hole is not a sleeping monster. Perhaps he wakes up every now and then to eat an ominous star or a cloud of gas that falls into him unexpectedly. Whenever a black hole swallows something heavy – such as a gas cloud – it releases small jets; Particles fly at nearly the speed of light.

Photo: NASA, European Space Agency, Gerald Cecil (UNC-Chapel Hill), Joseph DePasquale (STScI)

The tiny jets are created by accumulating matter attracted by black holes in a rotating accretion disk. Some of this material is then scanned by the black hole’s strong magnetic fields and sent back into space. These narrow jets are accompanied by a torrent of deadly ionizing radiation.

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second version
By the way, this is not the first time that researchers have encountered a jet from a black hole. In 2013, they also found evidence of a jet plane emerging from the south corner. So the research team was curious to see if there was also a north reverse ray. This appears to be the case indeed. This is evidenced not only by the amazing features of a bright gas cloud about 15 light-years away, but also by a glowing, inflated bubble of hot gas 35 light-years from the black hole. Researchers believe that the jet of the black hole penetrated this gas and “blew” the bubble.

The researchers then made several computer models that simulate the observations to study the outflow of jets in the simulated disk of the Milky Way. Because what could have been the result? Their finding: “Our central black hole has become at least a million times brighter in the past million years,” researcher Alex Wagner said.

studying It confirms that the black hole at the heart of our Milky Way is still regularly active. The largest volcanic eruption occurred about two million years ago. They were so powerful that they formed a massive pair of bubbles towering over our galaxy and still glowing in gamma rays. These bubbles were called Fermi bubbles Discovered in 2010 and found on both sides of the heart of the Milky Way. If the newly discovered microplane survives for hundreds of thousands of years, even these Fermi bubbles may arrive.