Black Hole Awakens After 26 Years, Lights Up Sky (VIDEO)

First Posted: Nov 05, 2015 03:36 PM EST

After 26 years of silence and nonactive observation, a black hole in a distant binary star system has awakened. There was huge outburst of energy across the electromagnetic spectrum which "lit up" the sky, according to Oxford University researchers.

This binary system is known as V404 Cygni (V404 Cyg), which is made up of a sun-like star orbiting a black hole. The last energetic outburst took place in 1989, according to a news releaseEarlier this year, an outburst of X-ray emission from V404 Cyg was detected with the Swift Space Telescope, where a worldwide alert was sent out via the Gamma-ray Coordination Network (GCN).

Dr. Kunal Mooley, from Oxford, recently carried out an extensive observation of V404 Cyg using Cambridge University's Arcminute Microkelvin Imager telescope to monitor the system. This observation of his helped researchers better understand how black holes can launch relativistic jets, powerful jets of radiation and particles that travel almost at the speed of light. 

With these jets, matter that is attracted by strong gravity falls towards the central black hole as it sucks in surrounding particles. However, instead of falling int, a small amount of matter gets accelerated to almost the speed of light, and ejected out of the black hole in two narrow beams along its axis of rotation. "These jets are believed to be the sources of the fastest-travelling particles in the Universe - cosmic rays," according to CalTech's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array program.

During the 18 century, astronomers identified V404 Cyg as a variable star constellation of Cygnus, which is a swan-like star pattern. Later in the 20th century, astronomers classified V404 Cyg to be a nova, a binary star system. A Nova is a star that exhibits a large amount of brightness, and then slowly returns to its original state over a period of time.

V404 Cyg's compact star is twelve times the size of the Sun. This confirms that V404 Cyg contains a black hole, according to the researchers.

Since its outburst in 1989, astronomers were able to gather a great amount of information about the mechanisms in Galactic black holes.

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