When a black hole hits another unlucky star, it is not always all its matter and energy sucked inside. Sometimes the center of a black hole out giant jets of plasma (jets or relativistic jets), and the first time scientists have obtained images of the formation and expansion of this structure. On their observations, the astronomers shared in the journal Science.
In the center of the event – the collision of two galaxies. Galactic mess was called Arp 299 and is almost 150 million light-years from us. In the center of each of the galaxies is a supermassive black hole.
Using radio and infrared telescopes, astronomers were watching the star mass is about two times more than our sun. For her trouble, she was too close to one of the supermassive black holes whose mass according to the calculations of researchers about 20 million times the mass of our Sun.
Poor star had no chance – the black hole tore it to shreds, but as it turned out, the story lights not over yet. There was a pretty rare event – the release of jet. For scientists, this was the first opportunity to observe the phenomenon of “real time.”
“We have never before observed the phenomenon of the formation and development of the jet directly,” commented the astronomer Miguel pérez-Torres of the Institute of astrophysics of Andalusia (Granada, Spain).
Most of the time black holes are at rest, just being in space and doing nothing. In order to become active, something has to fall into their gravitational field. Once this occurs, as a rule, begin to happen strange phenomenon. For example, falling into a black hole, the star begins to lose its matter and energy, creating around the black hole extremely bright ring of hot gas and dust accretion disk.
However, not all matter stars always sucked beyond the boundaries of its event horizon. Sometimes the interaction of magnetic fields with an accretion disc around the black hole creates an emission of radiation and particles almost at the speed of light fired into space.
The observation of one such phenomenon, called Arp 299-B AT1, began in 2005. 30 Jan astronomers using the Great Canary telescope noticed the emission of infrared radiation from the heart of the galactic collapse Arp 299. In the same year, but in July, a similar release was observed with the aid of Antenna array with very long bases (VLBA) is a radio interferometer owned by the National radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) of the USA.
To see the event directly in the optical range for the scientists was not possible – too big a distance as well as multiple disturbances (dust, gas) that blocks visible light.
“Over time, the object became brighter in the infrared and radio frequency ranges, but not in the x-ray or visible,” says astronomer Seppo Mattila of University of Turku (Finland).
“The most likely explanation is that the path of the waves closer to the galactic center are very dense concentrations of interstellar gas and dust that absorbs the x-ray and visible light and translate it into wave infrared radiation”.
Over the next ten years, astronomers observed the object using infrared and radio wave telescopes. And eventually noted that the ejection of matter began to move with great speed in one direction that would be expected from the behavior of relativistic jets.
Scientists have long suspected that the events of the destruction of celestial bodies under the action of tide-generating forces occur in space more often than is commonly believed. In the centers of most known galaxies are supermassive black holes. Many may be hiding behind thick layers of dust and gas as Arp 299, or the same as Sagittarius A*, located in the center of our milky Way, which makes it difficult to monitor them.
Researchers believe that the observation of the jet Arp 299-B AT1 opens for scientists the opportunity to better understand the formation of these structures, because of the relativistic jet remain insufficiently studied phenomenon so far. In addition, such studies can give us some hints on how often these phenomena occur.
“Because very often, observations in the visible range prevent thick layers of dust around black holes, the phenomenon of Arp 299-B AT1 may be just the tip of the iceberg, pointing to the large number of such events,” says Mattila.