Astronomers have recently revealed supermassive black holes which appear to be in nearby galaxies, hiding behind dust and gas. They can only be spotted when they engulf a celestial object, and thus they emit high-energy X-rays. These were detected by the NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) of NASA.
- Due to NuSTAR’s help, NASA revealed two supermassive black holes.
- They are situated in nearby galaxies.
- Both black holes represent active galactic nuclei.
NASA used this method to unveil two massive black holes circled by gas. They were situated at the centers of some nearby galaxies. Ady Annuar is a graduate student at Durham University in the United Kingdom and who unveiled the results of the American Astronomical Society meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
He claimed that these celestial phenomena from outer space are located somewhere close to the Milky Way, but they were not visible for us until recently. Both black holes represent what is called by astronomers active galactic nuclei. This represents a class of bright celestial objects which include blazars and quasars.
For astronomers to spot these supermassive black holes, it depends on the material which surrounds them, offering a very different view when analyzed with telescopes. The reason why active galactic nuclei are so bright is that particles situated in locations around the black hole reach high temperatures and emit radiation which spreads across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. They oscillate from radio waves with low energy to radio waves with high energy.
The majority of active nuclei is thought to be circled by a region of thick dust and gas that obliterates the central parts of the black hole from different lines of sight. The massive black holes which were recently discovered and examined by NuSTAR scientists seem to be oriented in such a way that astronomers were able the see them edge-on.
Thus, instead of seeing the shiny central regions, their telescopes first captured the X-rays which were reflected by the obscuring material surrounding them. Peter Boorman, who is a graduate student at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, claimed that this phenomenon is similar to the one when we are not able to see the sun on a cloudy day.
Scientists were not able to directly view exactly how bright they really are due to all the dust and gas surrounding the central engine. Boorman was the lead author of the study which implied the analysis of an active galaxy named IC 3639, situated at approximately 170 million light years away.
Image source: flickr