VIDEO: Watch a Nearby Black Hole Blast a Jet of ‘Intense Wind’ From Its Core

VIDEO: Watch a Nearby Black Hole Blast a Jet of ‘Intense Wind’ From Its Core

Scientists have made an incredible discovery that could change how we look at black holes forever. One of the closest black holes to our planet just blasted a jet of intense wind, the likes of which has never been seen before.

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From the Daily Mail:

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A black hole named V404 Cygni, one of the closest to our planet, spent 25 years sitting relatively quietly, producing very little activity.

But in June last year it broke its silence with a bright and violent outburst.

A team of scientists started to watch the black hole after it began its outburst, and the results have now revealed it was giving off an intense wind of hydrogen and helium.

In June 2015, V404 Cygni erupted 7,800 light years away and gave off material from a neighbouring star that it could not swallow.

During this time its brightness increased one million fold in a few days, becoming the brightest X-ray source in the sky.

It was one of the brightest black hole outbursts seen in recent years and made the black hole brighter for about two weeks.

The team of astrophysicists, including Professor Phil Charles from the University of Southampton, began taking optical measurements of the black hole’s accretion disc using the biggest optical telescope in the world, the 34ft (10.4 metre ) Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) in the Canary Islands.

These events are notoriously difficult to capture since they are unpredictable and rare.

This means astronomers are given little time to react.

The GTC began taking spectroscopic observations on 17 June after a ‘target of opportunity’ programme, designed especially for this kind of event, was activated.

The team saw a wind made up of hydrogen and helium coming out of V404 Cygni that had never been detected before in a black hole like this.

The wind moved very quickly, covering 1,864 miles (3,000km) every second second, so it can escape the strong gravitational field around the black hole.

At the end of the outburst the observations revealed the presence of a nebula formed from material expelled by the wind.

It formed in the outer layer of the accretion disc.

‘Its presence allows us to explain why the outburst, in spite of being bright and very violent, with continuous changes in luminosity and ejections of mass in the form of jets, was also very brief, lasting only two weeks,’ said Professor Charles.

This phenomenon, which has been observed for the first time in a black hole, also allows scientists to estimate the quantity of mass ejected into the interstellar medium – the vast space in between stars.

Each flash was blindingly intense, equivalent to the power output of about 1,000 suns.

‘The brightness of the source and the large collecting area allowed us not only to detect the wind, but also to measure the variation of its properties on time-scales of minutes,’ said Teo Muñoz Darias, a researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the lead author of the study.
‘The database obtained is probably the best ever observed for an object of this kind.’

There’s still so much we don’t know about black holes. This kind of information is groundbreaking and will lead to discoveries that could never before have been imagined.

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