Scientists Witness Black Hole Awakening in Real-Time
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Scientists Witness Black Hole Awakening in Real-Time

Sagittarius A*, a supermassive black hole four million times the mass of our sun, is a quiescent gigantic black hole at the centre of the Milky Way. On the other hand, scientists have recorded the first-ever astronomical observation of a supermassive black hole awakening and consuming neighbouring material in real-time—a stunning brightening of the core of another galaxy.

Scientists monitored events at the core of the Virgo galaxy, SDSS1335+0728, 360 million light-years away, using Earth-based and orbiting telescopes. From single-star masses to millions and billions of solar masses, black holes have masses so great that not even light can escape. With a mass of almost one million times that of the sun, SDSS1335+0728 contains a supermassive black hole.

An accretion disk, a spinning disk of diffuse material, has developed around this black hole. It emits radiation at tremendous temperatures, frequently outshining the entire galaxy. These areas, known as active galactic nuclei, are among the universe’s brightest objects, releasing energy in the radio and gamma ranges.

The principal author of the study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, astronomer Paula Sanchez Saez of the European Southern Observatory, stresses the importance of researching these nuclei to comprehend black hole physics and galaxy evolution.