Astronomers have discovered a black hole accretion disk that should not exist

The find does not fit into modern scientific concepts about black holes.

On the left – a snapshot of the galaxy NGC 3147, on the right – an illustration of a black hole in the center of the galaxy with a disk of a disk Image by NASA

An international team of researchers with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope discovered a disk with matter actively spinning around a supermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy NGC 3147 130 million light-years from Earth. However, according to modern scientific concepts, such a thin disk could not exist so close to the event horizon.

As the scientists explained , an unusual find for the first time demonstrates the effects of two theories of relativity by Albert Einstein. For example, the gas rotates around a black hole at a speed of more than 10% of the speed of light and becomes brighter when directed toward the Earth from one side and dimmer when it moves away – this effect is called relativistic radiation.

In addition, the gas is so deeply immersed in a gravitational pit that the light is trying to get out of it, and the radiation is stretched to red waves. Thus, the gas glow varies in accordance with the general and special theories of relativity.

We have never observed the effect immediately from general and special theories of relativity in visible light with such clarity.

Marco Chiaberg

European Space Agency researcher, Hubble team member

The black hole in the center of NGC 3147 weighs about 250 million times the mass of the Sun. Scientists suggest that such objects are located in the center of many galaxies, including the Milky Way.

According to current models, action disks around black holes are formed when there is enough gas around that can be captured. The substance begins to “fall” into a black hole and emit a lot of light, creating objects, usually called quasars.

However, in galaxies like NGC 3147, black holes are “undernourished” because there is not enough material around that can be absorbed regularly. Because of this, astronomers believed that such objects could not have accretion disks and wanted to confirm a guess by observing NGC 3147.

According to modern concepts, the action disks for such objects go out, and not flatten into a pancake-shaped disk. Therefore, they were surprised when they saw a thin disk around the black hole that looked like much more active objects in other galaxies.

The type of disk we saw is a reduced quasar, the existence of which we did not expect. This is the same type of discs that we saw in the case of 1000 or 100,000 times greater luminosity. Modern models of gas dynamics are clearly not justified for low-active galaxies.

Stefano Bianti

astronomer from italy

Astronomers have used the Hubble spectrograph to study NGC 3147. He allowed to isolate the light from the stars and focus on the faint glow of the black hole.

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