Scientists believe they have found evidence that black holes can emit energetic jet streams after absorbing stars, according to a study led by a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published this week.
Dheeraj Pasham, a member of NASA Einstein at MIT, led the study published Monday in the Astrophysical Journal along with researchers at Johns Hopkins University.
Pasham said the researchers were able to observe radiation from a supermassive black hole that consumed a star, a rare event that was captured by a global network of telescopes in 2014 at 300 million light-years away. Previously it was known that when a black hole devours a star, it emits X-ray waves as a result, which are produced from hot material of the star as it falls into the black hole.
But the researchers detected something that scientists had not noticed before: 13 days later, high-energy currents that entered the galaxy echoed X-rays, prompting Pasham to believe that these jet streams the star consumption of the hole can be an exit from black.
"The energy that comes out of a black hole is proportional to the energy that enters the black hole," Pasham said.
In more crude terms, said Pasham, the black hole is essentially digesting the star.
Such black hole jet streams can have great implications for the galaxies they enter. Pasham said that they can regulate the growth of a galaxy due to its energy levels.
"Jets can stop the formation of stars in galaxies if they are strong enough," he said. "But not all black holes produce sufficiently strong jets." That's something we do not understand. "
Pasham said in the future, he hopes that scientists can understand why some black holes seem to emit larger jet streams than others.
" These events are interesting because we can try to train our telescopes to be ready, "Pasham said." We do not know where or when the next event will happen, but we can try to understand that we can train our telescopes in the right direction. "
Laney Ruckstuhl can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org Follow her on Twitter @laneyruckstuhl .