Answers about major black hole mystery discovered by SMU researchers
HALIFAX – The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes in space are now a little less mysterious thanks to some scientific research being done at Saint Mary’s University.
Astronomy Professor Dr. Luigi Gallo and his team have been able to provide more answers to the ongoing question: How do black holes flare?
The finding came after Gallo noticed a black hole he has been observing, Markarian 335, suddenly brightened.
The unusual event also caught the eye of NASA which focused a space telescope on the black hole so Gallo and his team could further investigate.
“We caught some really really interesting features of it,” said Gallo.
One of those features in a black hole is called a corona, which is a bright source of X-ray light that forms when matter falls into a black hole. Now for the first time, they have been able to link that corona with why black holes flare.
“What we found was the flare was caused by that corona, these really hot energetic particles that produce X-rays being launched away from the black hole and towards us,” said lead author of the study Dan Wilkins.
Gallo says this discovery is first of its kind.
“We always have this idea that black holes are eating everything around it but in this case we are actually seeing material being thrown out,” said Gallo.
The research suggests that black holes send out beams of X-rays when their surrounding coronas shoot or launch away from black holes.
Astronomers say it’s a ground breaking discovery that could eventually lead to a better understanding about how the universe was created.
“So this means if you want to understand how galaxies formed and how everything around us was put together in the universe we have to understand how that black hole in the centre of the galaxy is working and release energy.”
The research and findings are now being published by NASA and various periodicals.
Gallo says he and his team will continue their research on black holes at Saint Mary’s. He says the work they are doing is significant, even though it’s work most aren’t even aware of.
“I think to some extend people are surprised. It’s unfortunate that’s the case because we are doing some really good research here.”
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