Of particular interest, this disk of material that traverses the black hole offers a unique opportunity to test the theory of Albert Einstein's relativity. The disk is so deeply embedded in the intense gravitational field of the black hole that the light of the gas disc changes according to these theories, giving astronomers a unique view of the dynamic processes close to the black hole.
"We have never seen the effects of general and special relativity in visible light with this great clarity," said team member Marco Chiaber of AURA for ESA, STScI, and John Hopkins University.
The disk material was measured by Hubble to rotate around the black hole at more than 10 percent of the light speed at such extreme speeds as the gas looks lighter, o travels to the Earth on one side and darkens as it moves away from our planet on the other This effect is known as the relativistic beam Hubble's observations also show that the gas is so deeply embedded in the gravitational well that the light fights to escape, and therefore appears to be stretched to more red wavelengths, the mass of the black hole is about 250 million times greater than that of the Sun. "This is an intriguing look at a disk very close to a black hole so close that the speeds and intensity of gravitational attraction affect how we see the photons of light," explains the first author of the study, Stefano Bianchi, of the Università degli Studi Roma Tre in Italy. The artist's impression of the peculiar thin disc of material that traversed a supermassive black hole in the heart of spiral galaxy NGC 3147, lying 130 million light-years away. Sincerely, ESA / Hubble, M. Kornmesser
To explore the matter that rotates deep in this disc, researchers use the Hubble Space Telescope (STIS) tool. This diagnostic tool divides the light from the object into many separate wavelengths to determine the velocity, temperature and other object characteristics at very high accuracy. STIS is an integral part of the effective surveillance of the low-light area around the black hole, blocking the brilliant light of the galaxy. Astronomers initially chose this galaxy to confirm accepted patterns for lower-energy active galaxies: those with malnourished black holes. These models predict that material discs should be formed when large amounts of gas are caught by a strong gravitational attraction of a black hole, then emit a lot of light and produce a brilliant headlamp called quasar.
"The type of disc we see is a quasar that we did not expect to exist," Bianchi explained. "This is the same type of disc we see in objects that are 1000 or even 100,000 times lighter. The predictions of the current models for very weak active galaxies have obviously failed. "
The team hopes to use Hubble to look for other very compact discs around black holes with low brightness in similar active galaxies.
Publication: Stefano Bianchi, et "HST discloses a compact, slightly relativistic broadband region in applicant type 2 NGC 3147", MNRAS, 2019; doi: 10.1093 / mnrasl / slz080