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NASA Discovers Something about Black Holes

Posted: November 5, 2015 at 8:14 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has captured Markarian 335, a gigantic black hole, generating a flare about 324 million light years away near the Pegasus constellation in September last year.

Black holes have been known to produce beams of energy, allowing scientists to investigate how they happen. These X-ray beams were caused by high energy particles around the coronas of the black hole.

“This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare,” says Dan Wilkins, the lead author of a paper set to be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest object seen the universe.”

The Formation of Coronas

How coronas are developed and how it looks like still remain unclear. The observation by the NuStar suggests that the coronas are similar to light bulbs; they are light sources that are found along the rotating axes of the black holes.

What seemed to be a pulse of light was actually Markarian 335’s corona simultaneously ejecting and collapsing.

“The corona gathered inward at first and then launched upwards like a jet,” Wilkins added.

Fiona Harrison, the principal investigator of NuSTAR, notes that the nature of its source of energy is still a mystery. However, the ability to record and capture the event might just give them clues as to the size and structure of the black hole, along with some new information on how they function.

Black Hole Friday | NASA.

Black Hole Friday | NASA.

Black Hole Myths

While we always hear and see black holes in many science and sci-fi movies and shows, the thin line between fact and fiction can sometimes be blurry. Here are the common myths that would tell you what you should or shouldn’t believe in.

  • When the sun dies, it becomes a black hole.

Contrary to popular belief, our sun isn’t big enough to become a black hole. Rather, in approximately 6 billion years, the sun will expand and become a giant red star with a diameter as large as the orbit of the earth. The sun will then give off a gaseous envelop, leaving behind a white hot stellar core, eventually becoming a white dwarf.

  • Black holes are not real because you can’t see them.

“While we can’t actually see them directly, mathematically we have known about black holes since Albert Einstein’s time, since the early 1900s”, says Dr. Amanda Bauer, an astronomer at the Australian Astronomical Observatory.

  • Black holes suck up everything in the universe like a vacuum cleaner.

According to Dr. Bauer, this is likely to be false. This is primarily because you would have to be very close to the black hole before you could feel the strength of its gravity; and as we all know, the further away we are, the weaker the gravity is.

  • The universe will be destroyed by black holes.

While the universe transitions in the future, this happens in the course of trillions and trillions of years. Although black holes live long, they actually don’t last forever. They gradually evaporate through the process of Hawking radiation.