MAR 27, 2016 3:47 PM PDT

Astronomers Observe Red Flashes From a Black Hole Eating a Star

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

As astronomers gaze into the distance, they sometimes get a chance to observe interesting things as they happen. One of the more recent discoveries were flashes of red light in our very own Milky Way galaxy in June 2015, which astronomers say are the result of a black hole devouring a nearby star.
 

An artist's rendition of a black hole devouring a nearby star.


The black hole, which has been dubbed V404 Cygni, is estimated to be just 7,400 light years away from Earth and is a part of binary system with another star.
 
As the black holes absorb matter around them, they will sometimes light up brightly as the particles of high energy get pulled into the high-gravity phenomenon and then ejected through their jets.
 
The jets of V404 Cygni were reportedly among some of the brightest of many black hole jet observations in the past. The ultra-bright jets gave astronomers a huge opportunity to observe the black hole activity up close.
 
And so they did, with high-tech observation equipment called ULTRACAM, which is a part of the William Herschel Telescope in La Palma on the Canary Islands. The findings are published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
 

Red flashes were seen inthe position of V404 Cygni.


“The very high speed tells us that the region where this red light is being emitted must be very compact. The origin of these jets is still unknown, although strong magnetic fields are suspected to play a role,” said Dr. Poshak Gandhi, the lead author in the study.

“Furthermore, these red flashes were found to be strongest at the peak of the black hole's feeding frenzy. We speculate that when the black hole was being rapidly force-fed by its companion orbiting star, it reacted violently by spewing out some of the material as a fast-moving jet.”

Each of the flashes were said to be up to 1,000 times brighter than our own Sun, and that the flashes were incredibly violent and rapid, lasting as short as 1/40th of a second in some cases.
 
You can bet scientists will be keeping a close eye on this binary system now that we’re aware of such activity, and they’ll be keeping an eye out for more activity just like it in the hopes of learning more about how black holes work.

Source: University of Southampton

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 04, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 04, 2019
What You Need to Know About NASA's Upcoming WFIRST Space Telescope
There are several space telescopes observing the cosmos at the very time of this writing, and there are plans to launch even more of them in the near futur...
NOV 11, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 11, 2019
SpaceX Puts Another 60 Starlink Satellites Into Orbit
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that stood tall and proud at the launch pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station ignited its engines and lofted a g...
NOV 17, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 17, 2019
How Much Do You Know About Triton?
Far beyond the reach of the terrestrial and gas giant planets in our solar system exists an entirely different class of world known as ice giants. Uranus a...
NOV 24, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 24, 2019
SpaceX's Starship Prototype Explodes During Pressure Test
SpaceX is best known for its Falcon-series of rockets that often resupply the International Space Station and ferry satellites into space to deploy an orbi...
DEC 01, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 01, 2019
Jupiter's Great Red Spot May Not Be Dying After All
Most people recognize Jupiter as the largest known planet in our solar system, but there’s another eccentric quality about the planet that helps it s...
JAN 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 22, 2020
Astronomers Have Found the Farthest Galaxy Group
An international team of astronomers funded in part by NASA has found the farthest galaxy group identified to date.  The trio of galaxies, called EGS7...
Loading Comments...