Astronomers used an X-ray magnifying glass to obtain an unprecedented look at the black hole system during the younger years of the universe. The two photos acquired by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with its new equipment showed either two developing supermassive black holes or one black hole with a jet.
The result of the study sheds light on how black holes grow in the early universe and the possibility that black hole systems exist, containing multiple black holes.
Chandra X-ray Observatory's New Technology Provides Better View of X-ray Objects
Astronomers utilized gravitational lensing in their study to obtain the unrivaled look of the black hole system that has never been seen before. According to Hubble Site, a gravitational lens appears when a cluster of galaxies creates a gravitational field that distorts and magnifies the light from distant galaxies behind it and at the same line of sight.
This gives an effect similar to looking into a magnifying glass, allowing observers to see clearly and in more detail distant objects in space that are otherwise impossible to see with current technology and telescopes.
SciTech Daily reported that Chandra's X-ray magnifying glass technology allowed astronomers to see two objects that are nearly 12 billion light-years away from the Earth. An illustration by an artist showed that the main path of light from distant objects is amplified and bent by a galaxy along with the sight between the Earth and other cosmic objects.
The objects in this study are part of the MG B2016+112 system that contains two supermassive black holes wherein each produces a jet. Gravitational lensing showed X-ray objects from the black hole system when the universe was only 2 billion years old.
The gravity of the intervening galaxy warped the X-ray light from one of the objects on the left (purple) to produce two beams and X-ray sources shown in the Chandra image. Meanwhile, the (blue) X-ray light, which appears to be fainter than the purple, produces an X-ray source amplified by the galaxy, making it appear 300 times brighter without using the X-ray magnifying glass.
Dan Schwartz and colleagues concluded that the three X-ray sources result from using gravitational lensing on the two distinct objects.
They described their findings in detail in their study titled "Resolving Complex Inner X-Ray Structure of the Gravitationally Lensed AGN MG B2016+112," published in The Astrophysical Journal.
X-Ray Observations: Best Way To Study Quasars, Jets
In a separate study, Phys.org reported that astronomers used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to find an extraordinarily long jet of particles from a supermassive black hole in the early universe.
Their results show that it could be the farthest supermassive black hole yet seen, with a jet detected in X-rays from a galaxy 12.7 billion light-years away. This could shed light on how the biggest black holes in the universe form early on in the history of the universe.
Researchers pointed out that X-ray observations could be one of the best ways to study quasars with jets in the early universe. In other words, it could be the key to unlocking the origins of the great cosmos.
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