For the first time the researchers have discovered that a strong X-ray pulse is emitting from a giant black hole in a galaxy 500 million light years from Earth.
The pulse has been created by gas being sucked by gravity on to the black hole at the centre of the REJ1034+396 galaxy.
X-ray pulses are common among smaller black holes, but the Durham research is the first to identify this activity in a super-massive black hole. Most galaxies, including the Milky Way, are believed to contain super-massive black holes at their centres.
The researchers, who publish their findings in the prestigious scientific journal Nature today (Thursday, September 18), say their discovery will increase the understanding of how gas behaves before falling on to a black hole as it feeds and develops.
Astronomers have been studying black holes for decades and are able to “see” them due to the fact that gas gets extremely hot and emits X-rays before it is swallowed completely and is lost forever.
Using Europe’s powerful X-ray satellite, XMM-Newton, they found that X-rays are being emitted as a regular signal from the super-massive black hole. The frequency of the pulse is related to the size of the black hole.
Dr Marek Gierlinski, in the Department of Physics, at Durham University, said: “Such signals are a well known feature of smaller black holes in our Galaxy when gas is pulled from a companion star.
“The really interesting thing is that we have now established a link between these light-weight black holes and those millions of times as heavy as our Sun.
“Scientists have been looking for such behaviour for the past 20 years and our discovery helps us begin to understand more about the activity around such black holes as they grow.”
Durham’s scientists hope future research will tell them why some super-massive black holes show this behaviour while others do not.
The research was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the European Space Agency and Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
Witnessing turbulent motion in the atmosphere of a distant star
23.08.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
Heating quantum matter: A novel view on topology
22.08.2017 | Université libre de Bruxelles
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences
23.08.2017 | Life Sciences
23.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy