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X-Ray vision reveals supermassive blackholes nearby

x-ray

Astronomers at the Southampton University have used “X-ray vision” to reveal supermassive blackholes which were hidden behind thick interstellar gas near our galaxy.

The discovery was led by PhD researcher Peter Boorman and Dr Poshak Gandhi as well as associate professor Ernest Rutherford.

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“Every large galaxy in the universe is believed to host a supermassive black hole at their centre, millions of times the mass of our Sun,” said Boorman in a press release. “These systems can devour vast quantities of matter due to their extreme gravitational pull, making the black holes grow. The in-falling matter then emits radiation across the full electromagnetic spectrum. These growing supermassive black holes are called Active Galactic Nuclei.

“These systems can devour vast quantities of matter due to their extreme gravitational pull, making the black holes grow. The in-falling matter then emits radiation across the full electromagnetic spectrum. These growing supermassive black holes are called Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN),” Boorman continued.

X-Ray vision has discovered supermassive black holes quite close to our galaxy

The emissions from the in-falling matter then get absorbed by thick clouds of gas covering the AGN, the veil of gas thickens resulting in only X-rays being able to escape and observed, Boorman said. “X-rays are absorbed by the atmosphere so I use data from X-ray satellites located above our atmosphere – such as NuSTAR, Suzaku and Swift – to detect high energy X-ray emission throughout the Universe.”

“By modelling the X-ray emission of supermassive black holes, we get a glimpse of their growth rates and learn about the amount and composition of material blanketing them. IC 3639 turns out to be glowing extremely bright due to emission from hot iron atoms whose origin is not fully understood,” concluded Boorman.

The supermassive blackhole is recorded to be somewhat 175-million light years away from earth.

Featured image: Adam Lofting via Flickr 

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