Black holes are fascinating objects to study because we can use them to learn more about about astronomy, cosmology, and gravity. Black holes are super-massive and super-dense objects in the universe. Because of these properties, they produce strong gravitational and electromagnetic forces that suck nearby objects in. After ‘eating’ all this extraneous matter, the black hole has energy to spare and then ‘burps’, emitting high-energy gamma rays (high frequency light).
This phenomenon has been observed before in many black holes, but recently scientists confirmed that black holes could do this more than once. Scientists at University of Colorado recently saw the second ‘burp’ from a black hole in a nearby galaxy. The first emission of gamma rays happened only 100,000 years ago. This is quite fast for cosmological events. If we treat the universe’s lifetime of 13.8 billion years as a single day, the time between burps would be only half a second!
Scientists are excited at this recent discovery, as it has been predicted by theory but never been detected. This discovery also tells us that black holes can convert matter to energy relatively quickly. The challenge now is for scientists to study the cause of the ‘burp’ and see what kind of diet yields this burst of energy for the black holes in our universe.
Original Article: An Active Galactic Nucleus Caught in the Act of Turning Off and On
Managing Correspondent: Cari Cesarotti