The distant supermassive black hole seems to have restarted. Astronomers watched her corona – the incredibly bright ring of particles that surrounds the event horizon – disappear within a year. Then, even stranger, she appeared again, as if the black hole had been turned off and on again. A colliding star could provoke a radical transformation, scientists suggest. The study publishes the Astrophysical Journal Letters.
In just a year, a period of time that is incredibly short on a cosmic scale, the crown of a supermassive black hole has decreased by 10,000 times. Then, after a few months, the black hole formed a new crown, almost as bright as the original.
Typically, such large changes in brightness should vary over time from many thousands to millions of years, scientists at MIT emphasize. But in this object, the researchers observed how it changed at an incredible rate.
The reason for this unusual transformation remains unclear. However, scientists believe that a star that fell into the gravitational attraction of a black hole could be a source of disaster.
Like a pebble thrown into the gearbox, the star may have ricocheted through the disk of a black hole made of vortex material, as a result of which everything around (including corona particles) suddenly fell into a black hole.
As a result, as astronomers noticed, there was a sharp and unexpected drop in the brightness of the black hole, 10,000 times, in just one year.
After the corona disappeared, astronomers continued to observe how the black hole gradually began to collect material from its outer edges to change its swirling accretion disk. He began to spin high-energy X-rays near the black hole event horizon. In just a couple of months, the black hole again created a new crown, almost returning to its unique radiance.
Physicists are not exactly sure what exactly leads to the formation of the corona, but they believe that this is somehow connected with the configuration of the magnetic field lines passing through the accretion disk of the black hole.
Scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said they would continue to monitor the processes of the black hole and its corona. The object is still in an unusual state of high flow, and perhaps it will do something “crazy” again, so the researchers “don’t want to miss it”.