Scientists Have Found the Beating Heart of a Distant Black Hole

More evidence has revealed that supermassive black holes could have jet-like functions, pumping out hot gas in huge bursts, kind of like a heart does with blood.

The data comes from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which found that deep in the center of the Centaurus galaxy cluster, 145 million light-years from Earth, an SBH is exhibiting some very strange behavior.

Judging by the curved features of the cluster, SBH bursts with high-energy particles. The particles fill the barren cavities of the cluster with such force that it creates shock waves, like sonic booms, repelling the material tens of thousands of light years across the cluster and shaping the cluster over time.

Unlike most human hearts, however, the beating is highly irregular. There is a huge gaping window between five and ten million years in which these bursts occur. There is also evidence that these bursts create sound waves, too distant and out of range for humans to ever hear. But, by comparing the cluster shape to similar ripples seen in the Perseus cluster of galaxies, the scientists were able to pinpoint the sound at 56 octaves below the notes near middle C — an impossibly low pitch for humans to hear.

The blasts also enrich the cluster with different elements, which can be seen in the composite image below.

The darker colors represent lower density than hydrogen and helium, and the light represent higher density, as you can see, the core has the highest density elements.

This rich chemical pallet of the cluster may make it all the more possible that SBHs do much more than just suck up stars, but actually lead to their creation. Discoveries such as this one will help scientists understand how stars and galaxies form, putting us one step closer to the entire evolution of our universe — the Big Bang.

Related Tags