Feb 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:51 AM EST

NASA Captures Black Hole Flares, Ejection of Corona

Oct 28, 2015 11:48 PM EDT


Just recently, NASA reported new observations from their two space telescopes, namely, Swift and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) that witnessed a black hole emitting flare, which used to be a mysterious event. But now, scientists are starting to learn that these massive X-ray beams are a result of coronas escaping from the black hole speeding at 20 percent the speed of light.

These black holes have no ability to give off light. Thus, glowing particles within their vicinity radiate these various types of light. Because of the gas swirling being pulled into the black hole, this generates heat and thereby emanating light. And conventionally, when researchers are observing a black hole, they search for these lights.

However, astronomers lately discovered that black holes have another source of radiation - corona. Coronas are energetic materials found near its disk and are capable of producing X-ray lights. Further details like its origin or structure remain obscure. In this study, however, they found that it is the corona that causes the flares but the fast launching speed.

"This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare," lead author Dan Wilkins of Saint Mary's University in Canada said. "This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe."

Astronomers believe that there are two likely configurations behind corona. First, the lamppost model that states that compact light sources, like light bulbs, that sit above and below the black hole along its rotation axis. Second is the sandwich model that theorizes that coronas spread out more diffusely, either as a larger cloud around the black hole, or as a sort of sandwich that envelops the surrounding disk of material like slices of bread.

This new observation inclines with the former model. It began when Swift detected a large flare from Markarian 335 (Mrk 335), which is a supermassive black hole, is approximately 324 million light-years away from the Pegasus (constellation) and is once the brightest light-emitting source in the galaxy.

In 2007, they started to observe that Mrk 335 was fading, a decreased brightness level compared before. So in 2014, the moment Swift caught Mrk 335 emitting a huge flare, they quickly request NuSTAR to check the object, a part of a "target of opportunity" program. Because of some important matters, NuSTAR attended the target eight days later, thereby witnessing the flare event's final half.

Through a detailed observation, they saw that "corona gathered inward at first and then launched upwards like a jet... [it] was beginning to form the base of a jet before it collapsed," Wilkins said. With this, it can be concluded that brightening of X-ray lights is a result of the corona's speedy motion caused by the ejected corona.

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