Astronomers Discover Black Hole Satellite Or System of Satellites
Is it possible that there is a super massive black hole at the center of our galaxy? Scientists claim to have found evidence of such a black hole. They say they have proof from an observing technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). Let me discuss this with you for a moment.
Two groups claim that there is a giant “solar mass” called a black hole at the center of our galaxy. Scientists claim that a massive, solar-like black hole exists at the center of a very compact cluster of stars. The new study claims to have found evidence that a super Massive Black Hole (also called a black hole) resides here on Earth. The study also suggests that these massive objects may exist at much higher altitudes than previously thought possible, up to about two to four billion miles above the Earth’s surface.
This new study was led by astronomers led by Dr. Fabian Pontich who is a Research Physicist at the University of Geneva. Dr. Pontich and his colleagues took advantage of a problem that many astronomers have with Very Long Baseline Interferometry. This technique, also known as VLBI, takes advantage of an existing satellite that allows astronomers to determine where X-rays or other light-rays are coming from. The satellite is about two to four billion miles away.
When the researchers used this method, they found two compact regions of gas at the ends of large spiral clusters
These regions, called accretion disks, were found to be made up of metal and carbon. What makes these structures unusual is that these metal and carbon atoms are very similar to the elements that make up normal spiral galaxies. If astronomers were able to map the relative positions of metal and carbon atoms, they would see if the black holes were actually pulling material from their spiral system. The result could mean that astronomers have found the first signs of planet formation around a massive black hole.
Not only did the researchers find a huge, compact region of gas that is pulling material from the spiral arm of a galaxy, they also found four smaller regions that are making up the so-called “event horizon”. These are also metal-and-carbon regions surrounding the black holes. What makes these event horizons so curious is that they are situated at very close distances to the nucleus of the black holes. Astronomers used a powerful instrument called a Very Long Baseline Interferometer (VLBI) to examine the distance between the event horizons and the black holes. Using data from VLBI, the researchers were able to determine the distance to an estimated total surface area of about half the diameter of our solar system.
What does this all mean? First of all, we know that astronomers are regularly producing stars at a rate that puts our galaxy, and in particular our own Milky Way, in the list of most crowded galaxies in the entire universe. By analyzing the position and movement of these stars, astronomers estimate that about half of the mass of the Galaxy is made up of these extremely compact regions. And by looking at the distance of stars associated with these super Massive Black holes, astronomers estimate that the black holes are also hosting stars within their centers.
If true, this finding means that astronomers have found a system of satellites orbiting the black hole, which acts as a natural telescope. In fact, the satellite system could be used to study any new faraway objects that might be very faint, but far enough away to be picked up by telescopes on Earth. For example, if there is a planet orbiting the super Massive Black Hole, and if we could detect that orbit, then we could learn more about the composition of this planet, and even about the composition of other gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. This would allow us to make informed choices about the formation of planets around other giant gas giants in the future.
Now, there’s a problem
We don’t actually know how close the satellites orbiting the black hole are to the event that they are watching. Previous studies had suggested that the distance between the satellites and the event was only a few hundred light years. However, because the system of satellites is very large, and it requires a lot of data collection in order for astronomers to detect it, astronomers are now working on new ways to study distant galaxies in far greater detail than ever before. If they can pin down the satellites, then we may finally know whether they are directly interacting with the monster black hole or indirectly influencing it.