Black holes are a region of space-time exhibiting gravitational acceleration so strong that nothing—no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from it. In the space, black holes are one of the most complex entities. Recently, astronomers have found another supermassive black hole named as Sagittarius A* that is clocking in at 4 million times the mass of the Sun. And now, in an attempt to prove Einstein’s hallmark theory of gravity revealed an unprecedented flash from the black hole at the centre of our galaxy.
According to a report of Gizmodo, a team of scientists has been measuring it for over 20 years, and back in May, they observed a flash of infrared radiation that was brighter than had ever been measured from the black hole.
“We can see it changing in real time,” Tuan Do, the study’s first author and an associated research scientist at UCLA, told Gizmodo. “You usually don’t get to do that in astrophysics.”
You can see spectacular footage of the phenomenon in the tweet given below:
Here's a timelapse of images over 2.5 hr from May from @keckobservatory of the supermassive black hole Sgr A*. The black hole is always variable, but this was the brightest we've seen in the infrared so far. It was probably even brighter before we started observing that night! pic.twitter.com/MwXioZ7twV— Tuan Do (@quantumpenguin) August 11, 2019
Using an infrared camera on the Keck II Telescope, the team of scientists observed the galactic centre for four nights this year. However, on May 13, the amount of infrared light it emitted increased by 75 times in just two hours. It also flashed brightly on April 20 and dimmed quickly on the nights it flashed. It is worth mentioning here that the research has been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
However, the behaviour cannot yet be fully explained, so scientists are currently racing to understand why the black hole is glowing so brightly. It’s likely that the change is caused by an increase in the amount of gas being sucked into the black hole. A star called S0-2 passed by Sagittarius A* in 2018 and may have caused a reaction which sent more gas gushing into the hole.
“The brightness variations are likely related to the amount of gas that falls into the black hole,” tweeted astronomer Tuan Do.
“The big question we have is whether this increased activity means the there is something going on that is changing the gas flow and if so, how long this will last?” Do said.
“Another possibility is that gas from the object G2 which went through closest approach in 2014 took a while to get to the black hole,” Do added.