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Surprise discovery could explain how early black holes in the universe grew so enormously



In recent years, cosmologists who look back to the beginnings of our universe have discovered something special. A whole heap of supermassive black holes – thought too early for such massive objects to have formed.

Exactly how they got so damn big so fast is a goddamn puzzle – but a new surprise discovery might have provided an answer. The dust and gas disk around a supermassive black hole is moving faster than usual.

This means that it gains mass faster than expected – which in turn could explain what happened in the earliest days of our universe.

The location of this anomalous black hole is the heart of a galaxy called Messier 77 or NGC 1068, which is about 47 million light-years away.

It is a Seyfert galaxy, which means supermassive black. The hole in its center actively accretes matter from the space around it.

For this reason, the black hole is surrounded by a huge, swirling, donut-shaped cloud that slugs it at visible wavelengths and the thin disc of material called the accretion disk. If one looks at the black hole in radio wavelengths, a greater degree of detail can be determined.

That's exactly what a team of astronomers did with the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile.

] Thanks to this new view, they were able to measure the movement of the gas in the inner orbits of the torus ̵

1; and they found something unexpected.

 Black Hole Rotation (ALMA (ESO (NAOJ / NRAO), V. Impellizzeri, NRAO / AUI / NSF, S. Dagnello)

" Surprisingly, we found two gas disks rotating in opposite directions, "Astronomer Violette Impellizzeri of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) said.

" Opposing gas flows are unstable, which means that clouds fall faster into the black hole than on This could be a way, like a black hole can grow fast. "

The supermassive black hole in the heart of M77 – aka M77 * – is about 15 million times the mass of the Sun. which means that their event horizon has a diameter of over 88 million kilometers, but its gravitational influence goes much further.

According to the team's observation, the inner disk begins to wander around the black hole irrides (and how water swirls into a drain) about 2 light-years from the black hole and stretches for about 4 light-years. That turns in one direction.

The torus itself extends much further, from 4 light years to 22 light years. It turns in the opposite direction.

It's really cool when black holes grow faster in this way. But! Another big puzzle has surfaced.

"We did not expect it, because gas falling into a black hole usually just swirls in one direction," Impellizzeri said. "Something must have disturbed the river, because it's impossible for any part of the disk to start spinning backwards by itself."

Opposing rivers in space are actually not unprecedented. The thing is, they are usually seen at different scales – at galactic scales where counter-rotation takes place thousands of light-years from the galactic center.

"The counter-rotation always results from the collision or interaction between two galaxies," said astronomer Jack Gallimore of Bucknell University light years instead of thousands from the central black hole.

What the team thinks is possible is that opposing material from the host galaxy has fallen into the torus or been sucked in by a passing opposing satellite galaxy galaxy And although the orbits are currently stable, the situation is likely to be temporary.

[It] will change when the outer disk starts to fall on the inner disk, which can happen after a few orbits or after a few hundred thousand years. The rotating gas streams will collide and become unstable, and the disks are likely to collide in a glowing event when the molecular gas falls into the black hole, "Gallimore said.

" Unfortunately, we will not be there to witness th e fireworks.

Bummer.

The research was published in The Astrophysical Journal .


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