You don’t have to know a whole lot about science to know that black holes typically suck things in, not spew things out. But NASA just spotted something mighty strange at the supermassive black hole Markarian 335.
Two of NASA’s space telescopes, including the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), miraculously observed a black hole’s corona “launched” away from the supermassive black hole. Then a massive pulse of X-ray energy spewed out. So, what exactly happened? That’s what scientists are trying to figure out now.
According to writing on NASA’s website:
Astronomers think coronas have one of two likely configurations. The “lamppost” model says they are compact sources of light, similar to light bulbs, that sit above and below the black hole, along with its rotation axis.
The other model proposes that the coronas are spread out more diffusely, either as a larger cloud around the black hole or as a “sandwich” that envelops the surrounding disk of material like slices of bread. In fact, it’s possible that coronas switch between both the lamppost and sandwich configurations.
The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array telescope (NuSTAR) and Swift telescope managed to capture the rare phenomenon in a black hole called Markarian 355, which is located just 324 million light years from Earth.
This new observation helps astronomers understand how these flashes are formed and could aid in solving some of the mysteries about celestial bodies.
Astronomers say it is the first time that where it is possible to relate the ejection of the crown with a flare. This helps explain how black holes give energy to some of the brightest objects in the universe.
Astronomer’s stat that the mysterious emission was caused by ejection of its corona, which is a source of energetic particles.
“This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare,” Dan Wilkins, of Saint Mary’s University, said. “This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe.”
NuSTAR’s principal investigator, Fiona Harrison, noted that the nature of the energetic source is “mysterious,” but added that the ability to actually record the event should provide some clues about the black hole’s size and structure, along with (hopefully) some fresh intel on how black holes function. Luckily for us, this black hole is still 324 million light-years away.
So, no matter what strange things it’s doing, it shouldn’t have any effect on our corner of the universe.
BTW, while we’re on the subject of space and scientists uncovering the mysteries of it, here’s America’s favorite astronmer, Neil Degrasse Tyson, telling us why scientists, let alone anyone else, will never uncover the mysteries of Mars – because we’ll never get there!