A black hole with rings
You’ve probably seen the incredible first real image of a black hole, released in 2019. Here’s another spectacular image: a black hole with rings. The Chandra X-ray Observatory released this new image earlier this month (August 5, 2021). It’s a composite that shows the ring-encircled black hole in X-rays, infrared and visible light. Light echoes, similar to sound echoes on Earth, are thought to create these rings.
Astronomers identified a total of eight concentric rings for the black hole V404 Cygni in 2015. This black hole, V404 Cygni, is in a binary system 7,800 light-years away. The companion star in the binary system is about half the mass of our sun. Astronomers first saw V404 Cygni’s rings in X-ray images. The rings can’t been seen in visible light. NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory (Swift) acquired the data to reveal the rings and create the new image (top of post) in 2015.
What created the rings?
The rings are created by light echoes, a phenomenon that is similar to echoes on Earth produced by sound waves bouncing off hard surfaces. So the rings are, in effect, echoes that can’t be heard ...