A big star may have hindered your plans
A very distant supermassive black hole appears to have been shut down and restarted. According to astronomers who had long observed this gravitational force that swallowed up a whole galaxy, the activity disappeared over the course of a year, when, after a few months, it reappeared as if it had never disappeared.
In addition to the curious disconnection, what most intrigued scientists was the speed with which it happened. After all, for a universal time scale, one year is not enough for a supermassive – which can have up to billions of times the mass of the Sun – to decrease ten thousand times. The active lap was even faster, as it took only a few months for the black hole to be as bright as before.
“We expect such large changes in luminosity to vary in timescales from thousands to millions of years,” explained Erin Kara, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and one of the observers of the phenomenon. “But in this object, we saw a change of 10,000 over the course of a year and up to a factor of 100 in eight hours, which is totally indictable and really incomprehensible,” he added.
According to a study published in the scientific journal The Astrophysical Journal Letters on Thursday (16), scientists suspect that something has hindered the functioning of the supermassive – perhaps a large star that obstructed the passage of other celestial bodies as a forgotten tool in the gears of an engine.
To have a notion of the dimension of supermassives
Two weeks ago, scientists determined that one of the largest known black holes has an extraordinary appetite. Discovered in 2018 and known as J2157, it has a mass 8,000 times greater than Sagittarius A *, the black hole at the center of our galaxy, and devours a daily amount of matter equivalent to the mass of the Sun.
When discovered, scientists estimated that J2157 would have 20 billion times the mass of the Sun and would devour half the mass of our star daily. New observations have allowed the data to be refined, and show that in addition to ‘eating’ more, the size of the black hole is also much larger than imagined: it is 34 billion solar masses.
MIT Black Hole Sun universe Science & Space