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Beyond Earthly Skies

Streamer from a Supermassive Black Hole

30 Jun 2014, 22:00 UTC
Streamer from a Supermassive Black Hole Person Renaud & Pierre-Olivier Petrucci.
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

A supermassive black hole with 65 million times the Sun’s mass sits in the heart of NGC 5548, a galaxy located approximately 245 million light years away. The centre of NGC 5548 is known to be particularly luminous due to the prodigious amounts of energy generated from the accretion of matter by the supermassive black hole. Much of that energy is in the form of X-rays as well as some ultraviolet radiation. An observing campaign running from May 2013 to February 2014 revealed something obscuring 90 percent of the X-rays emitted by the supermassive black hole when compared with past observations.To piece together the puzzle of why this galaxy’s core went dark, the observing campaign utilized six space observatories - XMM-Newton, Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Swift, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), International Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) and Chandra X-ray Observatory. In a paper published in the June 19 issue of the journal Science, the researchers who made the observations show that the X-ray obscuration is caused by the presence of a fast-moving stream of gas flowing outward from the galaxy’s supermassive black hole. The stream of gas is blocking 90 percent of the X-rays emitted by the accretion of matter ...

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