A corona can create a flare of X-rays around a black hole
Black holes have such an intense gravitational pull that nothing can escape from its grasp, not even light.
However, new observations from Nasa’s Explorer missions Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) saw a giant eruption of X-ray light coming from the centre of a supermassive blackhole located in the Pegasus constellation, around 324 million light years away.
The findings prompted the question from researchers, ‘why do black holes flare’?
The images of the black hole known as Markarian 335, or Mrk 335, suggest that when coronas – a source of extremely energetic particles – build up around black holes, they shoot away from them, causing a beam of X-ray light.
Why do black holes flare?
Dan Wilkins of Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, said: "This is the first time we have been able to link the launching of the corona to a flare.
"This will help us understand how supermassive black holes power some of the brightest objects in the universe.”
While black holes don’t release light themselves, they are often accompanied by an encircling glowing disk which is a build-up of particles.
Black holes still remain a mystery
They are commonly found to have coronas too, but how the coronas look or how they form are unclear.
However, the study from Nasa shows that they are likely configured through a “lamppost” model.
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A statement from Nasa read: “The ‘lamppost’ model says they are compact sources of light, similar to light bulbs, that sit above and below the black hole, along its rotation axis.
"We still don't know how jets in black holes form, but it's an exciting possibility"
“The new data support the ‘lamppost’ model – and demonstrate, in the finest detail yet, how the light-bulb-like coronas move.”
Describing the process of how the ejection of light from Mrk 335 occurred, Mr Wilkins said: "The corona gathered inward at first and then launched upwards like a jet.
"We still don't know how jets in black holes form, but it's an exciting possibility that this black hole's corona was beginning to form the base of a jet before it collapsed.”
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Coronas move astonishingly fast, and this one, the scientists say, was travelling at 20 per cent the speed of light.
Nasa added: “When this happens, and the corona launches in our direction, its light is brightened in an effect called relativistic Doppler boosting.
“Putting this all together, the results show that the X-ray flare from this black hole was caused by the ejected corona.”