Researchers noticed a suddenly illuminated plasma jet core, more than a thousand times the shadow of the black hole found in the quasar 3C279. Details of the study, led by Amit Shukla from the Indian Institute of Technology, have been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Black holes are at the center of almost all galaxies studied so far. They have an unimaginably large mass and therefore attract matter, gas and even light. But they can also emit matter in the form of plasma jets (a kind of plasma beam ejected from the center of the Galaxy with enormous energy). Moreover, a plasma jet can span up to several hundred thousand light years in space.
When this intense radiation is emitted, the black hole remains hidden because the light beams nearby bend strongly, causing a kind of shadow appearance. This was recently reported by researchers in collaboration with the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) for a black hole in M87, a massive elliptical sky.
Flickering gamma radiation detected:
In the quasar 3C279, also a black hole, the EHT team noticed another detail: At more than a thousand times the shadow of the black hole, the core of a plasma jet suddenly lit up. How the energy got there is currently unknown.
The said quasar was observed by astrophysicist Amit Shukla with NASA’s space telescope Fermi-LAT. Shukla, who is currently working at the Indian Institute of Technology in Indore, discovered that the core of the jet, located in the millimeter wavelength range, also emits high-energy gamma radiation with a flickering luminosity.
Speaking about the findings, Amit Shukla said, “I saw how the analysis of the data reveals the specific pattern of magnetic reconnection in the light curve. I felt like I had suddenly deciphered a hieroglyph in the black hole alphabet,” said Amit Shukla.
Energy from a spinning black hole:
During magnetic reconnection, energy initially stored invisibly in the magnetic field is suddenly released in the form of multiple “mini jets”. In these jets, the particles are accelerated, which produces the observed gamma radiation. Magnetic reconnection explains how energy reaches the jet’s core from the black hole and ultimately where it comes from.
Professor Karl Mannheim, chairman of the JMU Chair of Astronomy and co-author of the publication, explains: “The space-time near the black hole in the quasar 3C279 is forced to rotate together. The magnetic fields connected to the plasma around the black hole slow the rotation of the black hole, and it throws out the jet that turns some of it into radiation. “