Student from Pune-based Astronomy Institution Captures Unprecedented Details of Black Hole in a Movie – The Weather Channel

Image of black hole MAXI J1820+070

John Paice, a student from Pune-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA) as well as the University of Southampton, has created a movie of a growing black hole system with details that were never seen before.

The black hole studied by Paice and his fellow astronomers is named MAXI J1820+070. Discovered in the year 2018, it resides in our own Milky Way galaxy, merely 10,000 light-years away from Earth, and has a mass of seven Suns.

While far from being the biggest black hole around, the interesting thing about MAXI J1820+070 is that it produces flickering electromagnetic radiation.

Southampton University released the artist's impression of the event on the popular video-sharing platform YouTube last Friday. The video has already garnered over one lakh views on the site.

The black hole in the movie is in the process of eating up a star from its binary system, with the debris material forming a spinning accretion disc around it. Frictional, magnetic and gravitational forces are constantly compressing the black hole, thereby producing an incredible amount of heat and giving rise to flickering electromagnetic radiationa phenomenon that has been captured by the astronomers in splendid detail.

The astronomers used data from HiPERCAM instrument on the Gran Telescopio Canarias at La Palma and the X-ray-sensitive NICER instrument aboard the International Space Station for the movie. A high frame-rate visualisation (more than 300 frames per second) was created based on the observed visible and X-ray light emitted by the black hole system.

The astronomers confirmed that the movie is made using real data, but slowed down to 1/10th of its original speed, so as to allow the human eye to discern the rapid flares.

The debris material surrounding the black hole is so bright, it even outshines the star that is being consuming. Moreover, the fastest flickers only last for a few milliseconds, with an intensity equivalent to more than a hundred Suns emitting light in the blink of an eye.

Through this research, the team of astronomers has uncovered new clues that can help understand the immediate surroundings of black holes, including violent flaring at the heart of a black hole system. The observations also shed light on the operation of plasma flows around black holes.

The research paper was published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Student from Pune-based Astronomy Institution Captures Unprecedented Details of Black Hole in a Movie - The Weather Channel

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