Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomers shed surprising light on our galaxy’s black hole

11.01.2006


In the most comprehensive study of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), the enigmatic supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, astronomers -- using nine ground and space-based telescopes including the Hubble Space Telescope and the XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory -- have discovered that Sgr A* produces rapid flares close to the innermost region of the black hole in many different wavelengths and that these emissions go up and down together.



This insight into the frequent bursts of radiation observed shooting off the black hole like firecrackers -- similar to solar flares -- will help scientists better understand the dynamics of Sgr A* and the source of its flares.

Farhad Yusef-Zadeh, professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University, who led a team of 11 astronomers from around the world in the study of Sgr A*, presented the team’s results at a press conference today (Jan. 10) at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C.


"We observed that the less energetic infrared flares occur simultaneously with the more energetic X-ray flares as well the submillimeter flares," said Yusef-Zadeh. "From this, we infer that the particles that are accelerated near the black hole give rise to X-ray, infrared and submillimeter emission. In addition, not all of the material that approaches the black hole gets sucked in. Some of the material may be ejected from the vicinity of the central black hole or event horizon. Our observations hint that these flares have enough energy to escape from the closest confines of the supermassive black hole’s sphere of influence."

Yusef-Zadeh and his team observed Sgr A* during two four-day periods in 2004, one in March and one in September. (2004 marked the 30th anniversary of the discovery of Sgr A*, which has a mass equivalent to 3.6 million Suns and is located in the Sagittarius constellation.) The campaign captured data across a wide spectrum, including radio, millimeter, submillimeter, infrared, X-ray and soft gamma ray wavelengths.

The astronomers also determined that the real engine of the flare activity is in the infrared wavelength. Using observations from Hubble’s Near-Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer, they found infrared activity 40 percent of the time, more than was observed at any other wavelength.

"This is not something we expected," said Yusef-Zadeh. "Other black holes in other galaxies don’t show this flare activity. We believe it is the dynamics of the captured material -- very close to the event horizon of the black hole -- that produces the flares. And the flares are fluctuating at low levels, like flickers. The flare radiation results from fast-moving materials in the innermost region of the black hole. It’s a way of life for Sgr A*, this frequent low level of activity."

Because flares are variable and not constant, the study required a large number of telescopes devoted to studying flare activity simultaneously. The space-based telescopes used in this observation campaign were the Hubble Space Telescope, the XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory and the International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL). The ground telescopes used were Very Large Array (VLA) of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory; Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO); Submillimeter Telescope (SMT); Nobeyama Array (NMA); Berkeley Illinois Maryland Array (BIMA); and Australian Telescope Compact Array (ATCA).

Megan Fellman | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>