Astronomers have shown the burning in the center of a black hole using state-of-the-art cameras.
They used the technology to create a high frame rate movie of a growing system of black holes in a level of detail never seen before.
Led by the University of Southampton, they also discovered new clues to understanding the immediate surroundings of these enigmatic objects.
Black holes can feed on a nearby star and create material discs – accumulation discs – such as gas, dust, and other stellar debris that have come close but not completely fallen. Here the effect of the strong gravity of a black hole and the material's own magnetic field can cause variable levels of radiation to be emitted rapidly from the system as a whole.
This radiation was detected in visible light by the HiPERCAM instrument at the Gran Telescopio Canarias (La Palma, Canary Islands) and X-ray by NASA's NICER observatory aboard the International Space Station.
The research published in the Royal Astronomical Society's Monthly Notices studied a black hole system called the MAXI J1820 070, which was discovered in early 2018. It is about 10,000 light years away in our own Milky Way.
Scientists say the mass has about seven suns, collapsed in a region of space smaller than the city of London. System distances often make them very weak and small to see, but HiPERCAM and NICER instruments allow researchers to record 'movies' of light changing from the system at more than three hundred frames per second, capturing violent crackles and “burning” visible light and x-ray.
Lead author John Paice, an undergraduate student at the University of Southampton and the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics of India, said: “The film was made using real data, but has slowed to one-tenth the actual speed to allow the maximum quick bursts to be discerned by the human eye.
“ We can see how the material around the black hole is so bright, it is overshadowing the star it is consuming, and the fastest tremors last only a few milliseconds – it is producing a hundred suns and more being emitted in the blink of an eye. eye.
The researchers also found that drops in X-ray levels are accompanied by an increase in visible light and vice versa.