Observe a black hole that absorbs material from a star with a telescope installed at the International Space Station


Photo: NASA / CXC / M.Weiss

A high-resolution X-ray telescope mounted on the International Space Station made an incredible measurement of a black hole that absorbs matter that could have a significant impact on the understanding of astronomers of these mysterious objects.

Scientists know that black holes transmit high-energy X-rays when they absorb the substance, but how and where was the topic of the discussion. Neutron internal composition Explore, or NICER, enabled scientists to observe these X-ray rays, as never before, which could help to better understand not only black holes that have repeatedly greater masses of the Sun but also gigantic centers. galactic, multiplied by a billion solar masses.

"It was discussed how black holes develop," said Gizmodo Erin Kara, a postdoctoral at the University of Maryland, and NASA's Goddard Flying Center. "We see that they explode when a disc with matter falls in them … The source of the explosion is something we have been discussing because black holes were discovered."

Black Holes are spatial branches that are both massive and compact, that at a certain point, called the horizon of events, nothing or energy (including visible light) can escape their gravitational attraction. But when they absorb the substance from the nearby companion star, they show a complex structure. The "acrecian disc" of a substance crushed by gravity of a black hole surrounds it like Saturn rings, hot gas, called the corona, sitting on a ring in the full region of the black hole. These large absorption events are often accompanied by outbursts of high-energy x-rays from the corona, which are converted into low-energy X-rays originating from the acrecice disc.

But how does this absorption process progress? Does the disk start longer and then approach the horizon of events? Or is the crown moving inward while the disk remains close to the black hole?

Understanding this process requires the measurement of high-resolution X-rays, and scientists are looking for what they call echoes or "light echoes". Light reflections are essentially high-energy x-rays of the corona, which sometimes affect the acrecipical disc, which results in low-energy X-rays. They are interested in measuring the time between the initial flash and the echoes of lower energy.

Scientists have noticed a light black hole echo with the name MAXI J1820 + 070 with NICER. The data showed that the delay is six to twenty times shorter than the previous measurements. This can be simply because NICER can more accurately measure time than other instruments.

"Measurement of these light reflections with half a millisecond error is incredible," Kara said. For this reason, scientists could measure the time between X-rays and their echoes at a resolution of 300 nanoseconds for a black hole at a distance of 10,000 light-years.

Researchers could change the decision to the decision on the enlargement process. A shorter echo would mean that the acrecision disc was much closer to the horizon of the event than previously thought, which means that the crown is smaller, and not the acrecision disc approaching. time

"This is a major measure that addresses the many tensions we have seen in a somewhat lower measure," said Daryl Haggard, Ph.D. in Physics at McGill University, for Gizmodo.

But the study has its limitations. Haggard warned that this is only a source. "This could be the particular behavior of this acne black hole system," he said. "It's always a problem if you have only one source. We want the same behavior to be observed in the outbreaks of other star mass black holes." But there may be other interpretations that match the data.

Nevertheless, the study could have significant consequences. This would solve the discrepancy between the major supermassive black holes and these smaller star-shaped black holes. Acrylic discs of supermassive black holes extend almost to the central black hole, and earlier measurements showed that smaller discs with a black hole did not cause confusion. New results show that they may only need a better team.

This is an important finding and shows that a small black hole is more like supermassive black holes than previously thought. And it's great that we learned this with a telescope installed at the International Space Station.


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