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Friday, September 24, 2021

Express Science Quiz: On Black Holes

Last month, researchers saw light bending and X-ray echoes from behind a supermassive black hole.

By: Science Desk | Kochi |
Updated: August 27, 2021 4:31:05 pm
nasa black holeAstronomers spotted an unusual set of rings in X-rays around a black hole with a companion star. (NASA)

On August 5, NASA released an image of rings around a black hole. It was captured using Chandra X-ray Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. The black hole is part of a binary system called V404 Cygni and is located about 7,800 light-years away from Earth.

According to the release, “On June 5 2015, Swift discovered a burst of X-rays from V404 Cygni. The burst created the high-energy rings from a phenomenon known as light echoes. The light echoes around V404 Cygni were produced when a burst of X-rays from the black hole system bounced off of dust clouds between V404 Cygni and Earth. Cosmic dust is not like household dust but is more like smoke, and consists of tiny, solid particles.”

Last month, researchers saw light bending and X-ray echoes from behind a supermassive black hole. “Any light that goes into that black hole doesn’t come out, so we shouldn’t be able to see anything that’s behind the black hole,” said Stanford University astrophysicist Dan Wilkins, the first author of the new paper in a release. “The reason we can see that is because that black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting magnetic fields around itself.”

Here is a quick Express quiz on black holes. How many can you get?

In January, a supermassive black hole, which was estimated to weigh up to 100 billion times the mass of the Sun, went missing, leaving astronomers perplexed.

Scientists have been looking for the black hole using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope, and have so far found no evidence that it is anywhere to be found.

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