Spinning Black Hole Powers Jet by Magnetic Flux

Related Articles

Related Articles

Black holes are at the center of almost all galaxies that have been studied so far. They have an unimaginably large mass and therefore attract matter, gas and even light.

But they can also emit matter in the form of plasma jets – a kind of plasma beam that is ejected from the centre of the galaxy with tremendous energy. A plasma jet can extend several hundred thousand light years far into space.

When this intense radiation is emitted, the black hole remains hidden because the light rays near it are strongly bent leading to the appearance of a shadow. This was recently reported by researchers of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration for the massive black hole in the giant ellipse galaxy M87.

 

In quasar 3C279 – also a black hole – the EHT team found another phenomenon: At a distance of more than a thousand times the shadow of the black hole, the core of a plasma jet suddenly lit up. How the energy for this jet could get there as if through an invisible chimney was not yet known.

Extremely flickering gamma radiation detected

This quasar has now been observed with the NASA space telescope Fermi-LAT by the astrophysicist Amit Shukla, who until 2018 did research at Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany. He now is working at the Indian Institute of Technology in Indore.

Shukla discovered that the core of the jet, which was found in the millimeter wavelength range, also emits high-energy gamma radiation, but with an extremely flickering brightness. This brightness can double within a few minutes, as reported in the journal Nature Communications.

The special pattern of the sequence of brightness changes is characteristic of a universal process called magnetic reconnection, which occurs in many astrophysical objects with strong magnetic fields. Solar activity also has to do with the dynamics of magnetic fields and reconnection. This was recently demonstrated by observing “campfires” in the solar atmosphere with the “Solar Orbiter” mission of the European Space Agency ESA.

Invisibly stored energy is suddenly released

But back to the quasar 3C279: “I saw how the analysis of the data revealed the special pattern of magnetic reconnection in the light curve. It felt as if I had suddenly deciphered a hieroglyph in the black hole alphabet,” says Amit Shukla happily.

During reconnection, energy that is initially stored invisibly in the magnetic field is suddenly released in numerous “mini-jets”. In these jets, particles are accelerated, which then produce the observed gamma radiation. Magnetic reconnection would explain how the energy reaches the jet’s core from the black hole and where it ultimately comes from.

Energy from the spinning black hole

Professor Karl Mannheim, head of the JMU Chair of Astronomy and co-author of the publication, explains: “Spacetime near the black hole in the quasar 3C279 is forced to swirl around in corotation. Magnetic fields anchored to the plasma around the black hole expel the jet slowing down the black hole’s rotation and converting part of its rotational energy into radiation”.

Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg, JMU

Header Image : The centre of quasar 3C279 emits flickering gamma radiation, which is characteristic of the phenomenon of magnetic reconnection. Image Credit : Amit Shukla

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

The Great Wall of Gorgan

The Great Wall of Gorgan, also called the "The Red Snake" or “Alexander's Barrier” is the second-longest defensive wall (after the Great Wall of China), which ran for 121 miles from a narrowing between the Caspian Sea north of Gonbade Kavous (ancient Gorgan, or Jorjan in Arabic) and the Pishkamar mountains of north-eastern Iran.

Aelia Capitolina – Roman Jerusalem

Aelia Capitolina was a Roman colony, constructed after the siege of 70 AD during the First Jewish-Roman War, when the city of Jerusalem and the Second Temple on Temple Mount was destroyed.

Wild Birds as Offerings to the Egyptian Gods

Millions of ibis and birds of prey mummies, sacrificed to the Egyptian gods Horus, Ra or Thoth, have been discovered in the necropolises of the Nile Valley.

Karahundj – The Ancient Speaking Stones

Karahundj, also called Carahunge and Zorats Karer is an ancient stone complex, constructed on a mountain plateau in the Syunik Province of Armenia.

Palaeontologists Establish Spinosaurus Was Real Life ‘River Monster’

A discovery of more than a thousand dinosaur teeth, by a team of researchers from the University of Portsmouth, proves beyond reasonable doubt that Spinosaurus, the giant predator made famous by the movie Jurassic Park III as well as the BBC documentary Planet Dinosaur was an enormous river-monster.

Archaeology Uncovers Infectious Disease Spread – 4000 Years Ago

New bioarchaeology research from a University of Otago PhD candidate has shown how infectious diseases may have spread 4000 years ago, while highlighting the dangers of letting such diseases run rife.

Buhen – The Sunken Egyptian Fortress

Buhen was an ancient Egyptian settlement and fortress, located on the West bank of the Nile in present-day Sudan.

The Modhera Sun Temple

The Sun Temple is an ancient Hindu temple complex located on a latitude of 23.6° (near Tropic of Cancer) on the banks of the Pushpavati river at Modhera in Gujarat, India.

Popular stories

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.