Mystery Deepens “About Link Between Supermassive Black Holes and Cosmic Islands We Call Galaxies”




"The Earth, like many planets and stars, has a magnetic field that sprouts out of the North Pole, circles the planet and goes back into the South Pole," says Chris Packham, associate professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). "It exists because the Earth has a hot, liquid iron rich core," said Packham. "That flow creates electric currents that create a magnetic field. A black hole has a magnetic field as it was created from the remnant of a star after the supernova explosion."

As matter is broken down around a black hole, jets of electrons are launched by the magnetic field from either pole of the black hole at almost the speed of light. Astronomers have long been flummoxed by these jets.


These new and unique observations of the jets and estimates of magnetic field of black hole V404 Cygni involved studying the body at several different wavelengths. These tests allowed astronomers to gain a much clearer understanding of the strength of its magnetic field. They discovered that magnetic fields are much weaker than previously understood, a puzzling finding that calls into question previous models of black hole components. The research shows a deep need for continued studies on some of the most mysterious entities in space.

"We need to understand black holes in general," Packham said. "If we go back to the very earliest point in our universe, just after the big bang, there seems to have always been a strong correlation between black holes and galaxies. It seems that the birth and evolution of black holes and galaxies, our cosmic island, are intimately linked. Our results are surprising and one that we're still trying to puzzle out."

More information: Yigit Dallilar et al, A precise measurement of the magnetic field in the corona of the black hole binary V404 Cygni, Science (2017). DOI: 10.1126/science.aan0249
Journal reference: Science

The Daily Galaxy via University of Texas at San Antonio

Image credit: The image of a black hole at the top of the page is a composite of ALMA (red) and Hubble (blue) images. The pop-out shows the three clouds of bright gas as they start to “shadow” the black hole. Image credit: B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF); G. Tremblay et al.; NASA/ESA Hubble; ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)



"The Galaxy" in Your Inbox, Free, Daily