Astronomers first discovered this signal, which is repeated every hour, in 2007. Then, in 2011, our sun blocked a black hole and the heartbeat by satellites.
When they were finally able to see them again in 2018 using the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton X-ray satellite, scientists were amazed when the heartbeats were still strong. The beats of a black hole usually do not last very long.
The beating of this black hole became the first that scientists confirmed in 2007, and now it is the longest lasting heartbeat they have witnessed in a black hole.
Does a black hole have a heartbeat?
Scientists call this the heartbeat because the pulsation around the black hole creates a repetitive signal that can be detected. And the pulsation of this particular signal was maintained.
Although the black holes themselves are invisible, the disk of material around them, called discretionary disks, produces X-rays that sensitive telescopes and satellites like XMM-Newton can detect.
Black holes bring material from the ejection disc, pulling spirals of gas inside which they heat up. These high temperatures release X-rays. So as the black holes retract in the material, they simultaneously release the material in strong bundles called jets.
A strong X-ray force that specifically discharges this black hole resemble repeating the heart rate pattern in the data they collected. So far, this is rare in other black holes.
Time between continuous pulsations these black holes can tell astronomers about the size and structure of matter closest to the black hole event horizon–-It’s an area where not even light can escape the gravitational pull of a black hole.
Astronomers have compared heart rate to “feeding toddlers – go too fast and they’re driving him crazy,” said Chris Done, a study associate and professor of physics at the University of Durham’s Center for Extragalactic Astronomy.
“The main idea of how this heartbeat is formed is that the internal parts of the accumulation disc expand and contract,” Done said in a statement. “The only other system we know to do the same is to work on a 100,000 times smaller black hole of stellar mass in our Milky Way.”
That other black hole is located in one of the spiral arms of our galaxy, Done said – it’s not a supermassive black hole in the center of our galaxy. Instead, the remains of a very massive star that crashed creating a black hole that is only about 10 times the mass of our sun, and is powered by matter from a binary satellite star.
Although much smaller than the black hole in their study, “the speed at which it feeds relative to the mass of the black hole is the same as in the object we were looking at and is unusually large,” Done said.
Compared to the time when astronomers were initially able to notice the black hole’s beats, they noticed some changes in it during 2018 observations.
“It got stronger, so we saw it easier,” Done said. “That meant we could examine its properties in more detail and see how similar it actually is to the binary notation of a black hole we see in our galaxy.”
The researchers will then conduct a comprehensive analysis of the heart rate signal and compare it to the way some black holes behave in our galaxy.
“This heart rate is amazing,” Chichuan Jin, lead author of the study and researcher at the National Astronomical Observatory, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a statement.
“This proves that such signals emanating from a supermassive black hole can be very strong and persistent. They also provide the best opportunity for scientists to further explore the nature and source of this heart rate signal.”
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