Black Hole Has A Wobbling Effect On Matter Around It

First Posted: Jul 14, 2016 06:40 AM EDT

An international team of scientists, including members from NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), has reportedly observed that matter wobbles in a gravitational vortex around a black hole. The finding could help astronomers find a solution to the occurrence called quasi periodic oscillation, as well as enable scientists to throw more light on the behavior of matter when it is near a black hole's intense gravitational force, thereby also testing Einstein's general relativity theory.

According to scientists, once a black hole sucks in matter, the latter starts to heat up by millions of degrees and subsequently beams X-rays into space. In the 1980s scientists noticed that these X-rays flicker, first dimming and then brightening, and the oscillation process speeds ups from one in 10 seconds to 10 in one second, a phenomenon called quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO).

"It was immediately recognized to be something fascinating because it is coming from something very close to a black hole," said Adam Ingram, from the researching team. "It is a bit like twisting a spoon in honey. Imagine that the honey is space and anything embedded in the honey will be 'dragged' around by the twisting spoon. In reality, this means that anything orbiting a spinning object will have its motion affected".

Later on, astronomers speculated that QPOs could be linked to Einstein's general relativity and its prediction of gravitational effect. In short, it implied that a type of gravitational vortex could be created by a spinning object. The effect, termed as Lense-Thirring precession, would get so fast around black holes that it could be related to the dimming and brightening of QPOs, as per the scientists.

To test the theory, Ingram and the researching team took the help of two orbital telescopes, namely NASA's NuSTAR and European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, to analyze the QPO around a black hole known as H 1743-322. After monitoring the data, the team of scientists found that "iron line", a bright light caused by the emission of radiation from the inner flow, which collides against the iron atoms in the material making up the accretion disc or flat disc of matter surrounding a black hole, was actually wobbling and matched general relativity's prediction. Now, the scientists will use the new discovery to observe the movement of matter in a black hole accretion disc's inner regions to see if they can test ideas which are still considered hypothetical as of now.

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