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.
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
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...
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...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy