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Black hole awakening is followed for the first time by scientists

Astronomers have identified what is probably the awakening of a massive black hole at the center of the galaxy SDSS1335+0728, in the constellation Virgo. The event, which began in 2019, intensified during the more than four years it has been going on.

The system, which is 300 million light-years away from Earth, began emitting x-rays in February this year, a first for the scientific community. Researchers combined data from space and ground-based telescopes to detect the brightness of this galaxy and published the results in a study released this Tuesday (18).

“These giant monsters are normally dormant and are not directly visible,” explained Claudio Ricci, from the Diego Portales University in Chile, co-author of the study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“In the case of SDSS1335+0728, we were able to observe the awakening of the massive black hole, which suddenly began to ‘feast’ on the gas available in its surroundings, becoming very bright,” added Portales.

Initially, astronomers considered that the glow could come from supernova explosions or tidal events — when a star is torn apart as it approaches a black hole. However, these phenomena last for a maximum of hundreds of days, while the light coming from the galaxy under study prevails for more than four years.

“The most obvious reason that explains this phenomenon is that we are observing the nucleus of the galaxy starting to show activity”, explains Lorena Hernández García from the Millennium Institute of Astrophysics (MAS) at the University of Valparaíso, in Chile, and co-author of the research. “If this is proven, it will be the first time that we have observed the activation of a massive black hole in real time.”

According to the researchers, this is a phenomenon that could happen in the Milky Way, as there is a supermassive black hole located in the center of it, Sgr A*. However, it is not possible to state the probability of this nucleus activation occurring.

The data obtained from comparing data in the research is being used to study the origin and development of this type of body in space. “Regardless of the nature of the variations, this galaxy gives us precious information about how black holes grow and evolve”, concludes Paula Sánchez Sáez, astronomer at ESO (European Southern Observatory), in Germany, and main author of the article.

“We anticipate that instruments such as Muse (Multi-Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) on the VLT (Very Large Telescope), or those that will be installed on the future ELT (Extremely Large Telescope), will be fundamental to better understand why this galaxy is increasing its brightness”, she said.

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Source: CNN Brasil

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