Despite being among the darkest objects in the Universe, black holes are still capable of producing some of the brightest events.
NASA’s Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscope Telescope Array (NuSTAR) space telescopes have succesfully captured Markarian 335, a supermassive black hole located 324 million light years away in the direction of the constellation Pegasus, spewing out a gigantic flare of bright, energetic X-ray light.
The finding suggests that supermassive black holes send out enormous beams of X-rays when their coronas, sources of extremely energetic particles that surround them, are ejected.
“This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of a corona to a flare” explained lead author Dr Dan Wilkins from Saint Mary’s University in Canada. “This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the Universe.”
In September 2014, Swift and NuSTAR recorded a huge flare jetting out of Markarian 335 for several days. Careful analysis showed the corona being ejected from the black hole and eventually collapsing. Exactly why this occurs is not understood.
“The nature of the energetic source of X-rays we call the corona is mysterious, but now with the ability to see dramatic changes like this we are getting clues about its size and structure.” said NuSTAR’s Fiona Harrison.