Astronomers in Cardiff, in collaboration with international partners, have unveiled a new way to study how black holes feed.
An international team of astronomers has discovered a completely new way to study the behavior of active black holes.
They observed a sample of active black holes, located at the centers of 136 galaxies, and found a consistent pattern in their microwave and X-ray emission, regardless of their varying rates of consumption of surrounding galactic material, such as clouds of gas and dust. , And plasma.
Reconsidering the behavior of black holes
The team, led by scientists at Cardiff University, says this process cannot be predicted by our current understanding of how black holes feed.
Currently active black holes are fundamentally different depending on their appetites, the arrangement of their core and the way they attract galactic matter.
However, the team discovered that these black holes may have more similarities than previously thought. Their discoveries, Published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: LettersIt could provide new insights into how galaxies evolve.
Surprising observations and new insights
Lead author Dr Ilaria Rova, a postdoctoral research associate at Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy, said: 'The microwave and It comes from plasma flows falling there in an unregulated manner. This is the case in both systems that have enormous appetites, eating almost an entire star like our Sun annually, and those with smaller appetites, eating the same amount of material over 10 million years. This was very surprising because we previously thought that such flushes should only occur in low-flux eating regimes, whereas in people with large appetites Black hole It must be driven through a more uniform and constant flow of material (commonly called an “accumulation disc”).
The team made this discovery by studying the relationship between cold gas around active black holes and how they are powered in a WISDOM sample of 35 nearby galaxies captured by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array.Alma) of telescopes in Chile.
Dr Roffa added: “Our study suggests that the microwave light we detect could actually come from these jets of plasma in all kinds of active black holes, thus changing our view of how these systems consume matter and become the cosmic monsters we see today.” »
Implications for estimating black hole masses
The correlations observed by the team also provide a new way to estimate the mass of black holes, which astronomers say is key to understanding their influence on the evolution of galaxies across the universe.
Co-author Dr Timothy Davies, Reader at Cardiff University's School of Physics and Astronomy, added: “Galaxies care a lot about the black holes at their core. And maybe they shouldn't, because while we always think of black holes as massive monsters that consume everything around them, they're actually very small and light in the context of an entire galaxy. “However, they have a mysterious non-gravitational effect on matter tens of thousands of light-years away. This is a question that has interested us as astronomers for many years.
“Measuring the masses of black holes and comparing them to the properties of their host galaxies is the best way to begin to understand why this mystery persists. Our new method opens a new window on this problem and, with the next generation of instruments, will allow us to explore it in depth across cosmic time.”
Made up of researchers from The Cardiff Center for Astrophysical Research and Technology (CHART) and international partners from across Europe, Canada and Japan, the team plan to further test their findings as part of A new project “Multi-wavelength observations of nuclear dark object emission regions” (WONDER) is led by Dr. Rova.
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