Scientists have drawn the surrounding around a black hole of a stellar mass that is 10 times the mass of the Sun, using NASA's "Neutron star" (NICER) at the International Space Station.
NICER discovered X-ray light from the recently discovered black hole, called the MAXI J1820 + 070 (J1820 for short), because it consumed material from the accompanying star. X-ray waves formed "light echoes", which reflected on the flue gas near the black hole and revealed changes in the size and shape of the environment.
"Nieker allowed us to measure light echoes closer to the black hole with stellar masses than ever before," said Erin Kara, an astrophysicist at Maryland University, Park College, and NASA Space Flight Center at Golddale, Greenbelt, Maryland, who presented the findings of 233rd American Astronomical Society in Seattle. "Previously, these lights resonate from the internal accelerated disc, seen only in supermassive black holes, which are millions to billions of sunspots and slowly change. Starry black holes like the J1820 have much smaller masses and are developing much faster so we can see the changes play on human time scales. "
A document describing the findings, led by Kara, appeared in the Prince's edition of January 10 and is available online.
The J1820 is located about 10,000 light-years away to the constellation Leo. The associated star in the system was identified in a survey by the Gaia mission of the ESA (European Space Agency), which allowed researchers to evaluate its distance. Astronomers were unaware of the presence of a black hole until March 11, 2018, when an outbreak was observed by the Japanese Space Space Research Agency X-ray Image (MAXI), also on board the space station. The J1820 went from a completely unknown black hole to one of the brightest X-ray sky sources for several days. NICER quickly moved to conquer this dramatic transition and continues to follow the faded tail of the eruption.
"NICER was designed to be sensitive enough to study the weak, incredibly dense objects called neutron stars," said Zaven Arzumanian, NICER's science scientist at Goddard and co-author of the paper. "We are pleased with how useful it is to prove in the study of these very red holes with red holes with red rays."
A black hole may emit gas from a nearby comrade star into a ring of material called an accelerator drive. Gravitational and magnetic forces heat the disc to millions of degrees, making it hot enough to produce X-rays on the inner parts of the disk, near the black hole. Strikes happen when the instability of the disk causes a flood of gas to move inward, towards a black hole, like an avalanche. The reasons for disk instability are poorly understood.
Above the disk is the corona, a subatomic particle region of about 1 billion degrees Celsius (1.8 billion Fahrenheit degrees) that shines in high-energy X-rays. Many mysteries remain about the origin and evolution of the corona. Some theories suggest that the structure can be an early form of high-speed planes that these systems often emit.
Astrophysicists want to better understand how the inner edge of the accelerating disc and the crown over it in the size and shape change, as the black hole moves the material from its associated star. If they can understand how and why these changes occur in black holes in stellate holes over a period of weeks, scientists could shed light on how supermassive black holes develop over millions of years and how they affect galaxies in which they live.
One method used to indicate these changes is called the mapping of X-ray reverberation, which uses X-ray reflections in the same way that the sonar uses sound waves to reflect the undersea terrain. Some X-rays from the corona travel directly to us, while others illuminate the disc and reflect back into different energies and angles.
Mapping reperberal reverberations of supermassive black holes showed that the inner edge of the acrylic disk is very close to the horizon of the event, a point of no return. The corona is also compact, lying closer to the black hole, rather than through the majority of the drive for acceleration. Previous observations of X-ray reverberations from stellar black holes, however, suggest that the internal edge of the accent disc can be quite distant, up to hundreds of times the size of the horizon of events. However, the J1820 stellar mass was more like his supermassive cousins.
As examined by the NICER of the J1820, Kara's team noted a delay in delay, or a delay in time, between the initial X-ray flash that comes directly from the crown and the echo on the disc screen, indicating that X-rays traveled shorter and shorter distances before they are reflected. A distance of 10,000 light-years, they estimated that the crown moves vertically from about 100 to 10 miles – that is to see something that the size of the blueberry is reduced to something with the size of poppy seed at a distance of Pluto.
"This is the first time we've seen this kind of evidence that the crown is reduced during this particular phase of the evolution of the outburst," says co-author Jack Steiner, Astrophysicist at the Institute of Technology Astrophysics and Space Kavli at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Research in Cambridge. "The crown is still quite mysterious and we still have a loose understanding of what it is. But now we have evidence that what is developing in the system is the structure of the crown itself."
To confirm the reduced delay time, due to the change in the corona rather than the disk, the researchers used a signal called the iron K line, created when the X-ray of the corona collided with iron atoms in the disk, causing their fluorescence. Time is slower in stronger gravitational fields and at higher speeds, as stated in Einstein's theory of relativity. When iron atoms closest to the black hole are bombarded by light from the core of the corona, the wavelengths of the X-rays they emit stretch, because time moves slower for them than for the observer (in this case, NICER).
Kara's team discovered that the extended linear sheet K J1820 remained constant, which means that the inner edge of the disk remained close to the black hole – similar to the supermassive black hole. If the reduced delay time was caused by the inner edge of the disc moving even further, then the iron K line would stretch even further.
These observations give scientists new insights on how material tubes in a black hole and how energy is released in this process.
"The J1820's NICER's observations have taught us something new about the black holes on the stellar mass and how we can use them as analogues for the study of supermassive black holes and their effects on the formation of galaxies," said co-author Philip Uttley, an astrophysicist at University of Amsterdam. "We've seen four similar events in the first year of NICER, and this is remarkable. It feels like we're on the brink of tremendous progress in astronomy of X-rays."
NICER is an astrophysical mission of opportunities in the NASA Explorer program, which provides frequent opportunities for world-class scientific space exploration, using innovative, streamlined and efficient management approaches in the field of heliophysics and astrophysics. The NASA Space Mission Directorate supports the SEXTANT component of the mission, demonstrating the navigation of spacecraft based spacecraft.
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