Most galaxies are thought to harbor giant, or “supermassive” black holes at their cores.The astronomers pointed the telescope at nine suspected, hidden supermassive black holes that were thought to be feasting on material at the centre of galaxies, but where shrouds of gas and dust might be obscuring some of the activity.In five cases, releases of high-energy x-rays confirmed the presence of black holes, the researchers said.
The findings were presented today, July 6th, at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales.
It took three telescopes to capture, in unison, this awe-inspiring photo of our Sun emitting microflares.
“The most widely understood black holes are known as stellar black holes and can contain 20 times the mass of the sun within a ball of space with a diameter of about 10 miles”.
High-energy x-rays from NuSTAR are shown in blue; low-energy x-rays from Japan’s Hinode spacecraft are green, and extreme ultraviolet light from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is yellow and red. During the observations, microflares went off, which are smaller versions of the larger flares that also erupt from the sun’s surface.
“Our sun is quieting down in its activity cycle, but still has a couple of years before it reaches a minimum”, Iain Hannah of the University of Glasgow said.
But thanks to high energy X-rays dancing on its surface, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) was able to snap an image that showed the sun displaying a rainbow of colors.
“Black holes come in several different varieties, all of which are characterized by a dense concentration of mass compressed into a tiny space and a gravitational force so powerful it keeps light from escaping”, the Monitor’s Noelle Swan reported in September, following the discovery of a supermassive black hole inside one of the smallest known dwarf galleries. Nanoflares may help explain why the sun’s atmosphere, or corona is so much hotter than expected. In this quiescent state, the high-energy X-ray nanoflare emissions could be detected from the noise.
NuSTAR may also be able to directly detect hypothesised nanoflares, which would be only one-billionth the energy of flares. In this case, though, the telescope revealed a bit more about our own Sunday.