Evidence of Black Holes Feeding in Cycles Described Graphically as Repeated Burps

Evidence of Black Holes Feeding in Cycles Described Graphically as Repeated Burps

Black holes are the darlings of astrophysicists all over the world. There’s simply no other cosmic object as fascinating and as paradoxical. Which is why any time new behaviors are observed, the science world gets very excited indeed. A super-massive black hole 800 million light-years away just gave evidence of a cyclical feeding cycle, possibly confirming theories about the life cycles of these mysterious celestial objects.

When things get pulled inside the event horizon of black holes, sometimes great quantities of energy are also released in the process. This happens especially if the main feed of the black hole is gas. Great plumes of gas, matter and radiation can be ejected by black holes, and  in fact, scientists theorized that these “burps” ought to come at pretty quick intervals if a black hole is well fed. Finally, scientists managed to use imagery from the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes to discover empirical proof of such a cycle taking place. Images show the 800 million year old object, surrounded up and down by two distinct clouds of gas and radiation, which are only about 100 thousand years apart in age. This simply means that one of them was ejected to one side of the black hole, and the other one, which is actually bigger and more compact, got ejected 100 thousand year later, in the other direction. These might seems like very long stretches of time, but in astronomical terms, they’re blinks of an eye. This behavior seems to confirm the fast cycle predicted by astronomer theories about black holes.

These “burps” are mostly only detectable in the X-ray spectrum, so the Chandra telescope was an ideal tool for the job. In fact, we already have well documented instances of such plumes of gas being ejected from black holes, but the duality of this fresh discovery is what makes it special.

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