In the cores of galaxies there are so-called “supermassive” black holes, the masses of which range from several hundred thousand to billions of solar masses. The Milky Way is no exception, with the Sagittarius A* black hole at its center and four million solar masses. The gravitational force that prevails in such objects that nothing can escape from them outside a specified radius called the “horizon”. Not even the light.
Around the black hole, matter accretion disk
Gas and dust accumulate around the black holes, which gradually swallow them, and this substance takes the form of an accretion disk. It is compressed and heated there to extreme temperatures before falling into the belly of the black hole. This phenomenon It generates many side effects, such as the creation of a magnetic field of the accretion disk, or the emission of X-rays, which are then detected by measuring instruments.
A study dating back to 2020 saw a note flash from this disc. These ephemeral pieces correspond to random fluctuations in the process of feeding the black hole around which the disk is forming, but the detailed process remains unknown to this day. Recently, a team from the University of Illinois led by researchers Colin Burke and Yu Shen discovered an interesting fact about this flash: it is related to the mass of the black hole. Their findings were published on August 12, 2021 in the journal Sciences.
Thanks to these new results, it will be possible to infer the mass of black holes by observing the light emitted by their accretion disk. So a new method for calculating the mass of black holes will be born, making it possible to pave the way for future research.