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Hubble sees the mysterious black hole in the hole



  Hubble discovers the mysterious black hole disc
Impression artist of the peculiar thin material disc that circling a supermassive black hole in the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147, located 130 million light years away. Credit: ESA / Hubble, M. Kornmesser

Astronomers using the NASA / ESA Hubble Space Telescope observe an unexpectedly thin disc of material surrounding a massive supermassive hole in the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147, located 130 million light-years away.


The presence of black disc holes in a low-known active galaxy has surprised astronomers. Black holes in some types of galaxies such as NGC 3147 are considered to be hungry due to lack of gravityally material that they regularly feed. It is therefore worrying that a thin disc surrounds a hungry hungry hole imitating the larger disc found in active galaxies.

In particular interest, this disc of material surrounding the black hole offers a unique opportunity to test Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. The disc is deeply embedded in the intense gravitational field of the black hole whose light from the gas disc is altered, according to these theories, giving astronomers a unique look at dynamic processes near a black hole

"We have never seen the effects of both general and special relativity in visible light with this clarity," said member of team Marco Chiaberge of AURA for ESA, STScI and Johns Hopkins Univeristy.

The material of the disc is measured by Hubble to act around the black hole at more than 10% of the speed of light. At such extreme speeds, the gas appears to shine as it travels to Earth on one side, and sinks as it speeds away from our planet on the other hand. The effect is known as relativistic beaming. Hubble observations also show that gas is deeply embedded in a gravitational well whose light is struggling to escape, and therefore appears to be stretched out to the redder wavelengths. The mass of the black hole is almost 250 million times the Sun.

  Hubble discovers the mysterious black hole disc
An image of the Hubble Space Telescope of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147 appears alongside the artist illustration of the supermassive black hole that lives in the core of the galaxy. Credit: Hubble Image: NASA, ESA, S. Bianchi (Università degli Studi Roma Tre University), A. Laor (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology), and M. Chiaberge (ESA, STScI, and JHU); Illustration: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild and L. Hustak (STScI)

"It's an intriguing peek into a disc near a black hole, so the speed and intensity of the gravitational pull affects how we can see the photons of light," explained the first one study, Stefano Bianchi, of Università degli Studi Roma Tre in Italy.

To study the object that spiked inside this disc, researchers used the Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) instrument. This diagnostic tool separates light from one object to its many individual wavelengths to determine the speed, temperature, and other properties of the object at extremely high accuracy. STIS is important to effectively observe the low level of light around the black hole, which prevents the luminous glow of the galaxy.

Astronomers first selected this galaxy to prove accepted models about active galaxies that are less light: those with malnourished black holes. These models predict that material discs should form when enough gas is trapped by a strong gravitational pull of the black hole, and then releases a lot of light and produces a brilliant beacon called quasar.

"The type of disc we see is a scaled quasar that we did not expect to exist," Bianchi explained. "This is the same type of disc we see on things 1000 or even 100 000 times more luminous. The predictions of current models for very faint active galaxies have clearly failed."

  Hubble discovers a mysterious black hole disc
Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Bianchi (Università degli Studi Roma Tre University), A. Laor (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology), and M. Chiaberge (ESA, STScI, and JHU)

The team intends to use Hubble to hunt for other very compact discs around low-light black holes in similarly active galaxies.

The role of the team appears in the journal Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society .


Hubble reflects tiny galaxies with big hearts


More info:
Stefano Bianchi et al. HST shows a compact relativistic wide line of the region with the true nature of the candidate 2 NGC 3147, Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters (2019). DOI: 10.1093 / mnrasl / slz080

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ESA / Hubble Information Center

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Hubble sees the mysterious black hole disc (2019, July 11)
retrieved on July 11, 2019
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