Milky Way: Hot gas bubble orbits black hole

observations with SOUL (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) have revealed signs of a circumferential hot spot Sagittarius A*the black hole from the center of our galaxy.

“We think we’re seeing a hot bubble of gas sliding around Sagittarius A* in an orbit similar in size to that of the planet Mercury but completing a full loop in only about 70 minutes. This requires an impressive speed of about 30% the speed of light!” says Maciek Wielgus from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, who led this study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The observations were made with SOULa radio telescope in the Chilean Andes, owned by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), during a campaign by the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) Collaboration to obtain images of black holes.

What is this gas point?

In April 2017, the EHT connected eight radio telescopes around the world, including SOULresulting in the first recently released image of Sagittarius A*. To calibrate the EHT data, Wielgus and colleagues, who are members of the EHT collaboration, used data from SOUL recorded simultaneously with the EHT observations Sagittarius A*. To the surprise of the team, there were more clues as to the nature of the black hole hidden in measurements SOUL.

Coincidentally, some of the observations were made shortly after a burst, or flare, of X-ray energy emitted from the center of our galaxy that was spotted by NASA’s Chandra Space Telescope. This type of flare, previously observed with X-ray and infrared telescopes, is thought to be associated with so-called “hot spots,” hot gas bubbles orbiting very fast and very close to Earth. black hole

“What’s really new and interesting is that until now, these types of flares have only been clearly present in X-ray and infrared observations Sagittarius A*. Here, for the first time, we see very strong evidence that orbital hot spots are also present in radio-wavelength observations,” says Wielgus, who is also a member of the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center (Poland) and the Harvard University Black Hole Initiative (United States). .

“Perhaps these hot spots detected at infrared wavelengths are a manifestation of the same physical phenomenon: as infrared-emitting hot spots cool, they become visible at longer wavelengths, as observed by SOUL and the EHT,” adds Jesse Vos, PhD student at Radboud University (Netherlands), who also participated in this study.

It was long believed that the flares were caused by magnetic interactions in the very hot gas that orbits very close to Earth. Sagittarius A*, and the new findings support this idea. “We now find strong evidence for a magnetic origin of these flares, and our observations give us a clue as to the geometry of the process. The new data are extremely useful to create a theoretical interpretation of these events,” says co-author Monika Moscibrodzka from Radboud University.

SOUL allows the astronomical community to study the polarized radio emission of Sagittarius A*which can be used to reveal the magnetic field of the black hole The team used these observations along with theoretical models to learn more about the formation of the hot spot and the environment in which it is embedded, including the magnetic field surrounding Earth. Sagittarius A* Relative to previous observations, this research provides stronger constraints on the shape of this magnetic field and helps the astronomical community discover the nature of our magnetic field black hole and its surroundings.

confirm theories

The observations confirm some of the earlier discoveries of the GRAVITY instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT), observing in the infrared. GRAVITY data and SOUL indicate that the flare originates from a pool of gas swirling around black hole at about 30% of the speed of light clockwise in the sky with the hot spot orbit almost head-on.

“In the future, we should be able to track hot spots across frequencies using coordinated multi-wavelength observations with GRAVITY and SOUL: The success of such an effort would be a real milestone in our understanding of the physics of flares from the galactic center,” says Ivan Marti-Vidal from the University of Valencia, co-author of the study.

The team also hopes to use the EHT to directly observe blobs of gas in orbit to study them ever more closely black hole and learn more about it. “Hopefully one day we’ll feel comfortable saying we ‘know’ what’s going on inside Sagittarius A*Wielgus closes. (With information from Europe Press)

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