The titanic explosion in galaxy cluster MS 0735 first detected in 2005 held the record as the most powerful black hole cataclysm in the universe prior to the discovery in 2020 of the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster blast -a gargantuan event, a cataclysm that blasted a hole in the cosmos 15 times the size of the Milky Way galaxy. The black hole jets of the 2005 event blazed through the galaxy into the surrounding multimillion degree intergalactic gas, then pushed the hot gas aside to create gargantuan cavities –the mass of the displaced gas was equal to about a trillion Suns, or more than the mass of all the stars in the Milky Way.
Black Holes –“Most Complex Systems in the Universe”
Although black holes –described by Stephen Hawking Stephen Hawking as “the most complex existing systems in the universe”– are famous for pulling material toward them, reports the Chandra X-Ray Observvatory, they often expel prodigious amounts of material and energy when matter falling toward the black hole is redirected into jets, or beams, that blast outward into space and slam into any surrounding material.
Black holes are very exotic objects, says 2020 Nobel-Prize laureate Andrea Ghez, who confirmed the existence of Milky Way’s supermassive black hole. ‘Technically,” Ghez says, “a black hole puts a huge amount of mass inside of zero volume.” As Einstein observed, black holes are where God divides by zero. “So our understanding of the center of black holes doesn’t make sense, which is a big clue to physicists that we don’t have our physics quite right.”
Largest Hard Disk that Exists in Nature, in Two Dimensions
According to new research black holes –strange objects that have “no memory, yet are said to contain the earliest memories of the universe, as well as the most recent, while at the same time obliterating all memory by obliterating all its manifestations”–.could be like a hologram, in that they have two dimensions, in which gravity disappears, but they reproduce an object in three dimensions, aligning with Einstein’s theory of relativity, which describes black holes as three dimensional, simple, spherical, and smooth. In this way, these cosmic bodies, as affirmed by quantum theories, could be incredibly complex and concentrate an enormous amount of information inside themselves, as the largest hard disk that exists in nature, in two dimensions.
Chandra Image of 2005 Cataclysm
This Chandra image of the 2005 event shows two vast cavities – each 600,000 light years in diameter – in the hot, X-ray emitting gas that pervades the galaxy cluster MS 0735.6+7421 (MS 0735 for short). Although the cavities contain very little hot gas, they are filled with a two-sided, elongated, magnetized bubble of extremely high-energy electrons that emit radio waves.
The cavities appear on opposite sides of a large galaxy at the center of the cluster, according to Chandra, which indicates that a gigantic eruption produced by the galaxy’s supermassive black hole created the structures. The magnitude of the eruption suggests that as a large amount of gas swirled rapidly toward the central black hole, it generated intense electromagnetic fields that ejected a fraction of the gas in the form of powerful jets of high-energy particles.
2020 Ophiuchus Event –Five Times More Powerful
Chandra has discovered evidence of similar outbursts in the form of other X-ray cavities in galaxy clusters, but the cavities in MS 0735 are easily the largest and most powerful until the Ophiuchus galaxy cluster that harbors a large galaxy that contains the supermassive black hole. erupted in a new mind-boggling record reported by Chandra in February of 2020. In the 2005 eruption, the supermassive black hole must have swallowed about 300 million solar masses of gas over the last hundred million years. The amount of energy required to create the cavity in Ophiuchus is about five times greater than the MS 0735+74 outburst, and hundreds and thousands of times greater than typical clusters.
Fifteen Milky Way Galaxies Stacked in a Row
In some ways, says said Simona Giacintucci of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, about the Ophiuchus cluster blast “it is similar to how the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 ripped off the top of the mountain. A key difference is that you could fit fifteen Milky Way galaxies in a row into the crater this eruption punched into the cluster’s hot gas.”
“As is often the case in astrophysics we really need multiwavelength observations to truly understand the physical processes at work,” said Melanie Johnston-Hollitt, a co-author from International Centre for Radio Astronomy in Australia. “Having the combined information from X-ray and radio telescopes has revealed this extraordinary source, but more data will be needed to answer the many remaining questions this object poses.”
Image Credit Ophiuchus cluster blast : X-ray: Chandra: NASA/CXC/NRL/S. Giacintucci, et al., XMM-Newton: ESA/XMM-Newton; Radio: NCRA/TIFR/GMRT; Infrared: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF
Image Credit MS 0735 top of page: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. Waterloo/B.McNamara; Optical: NASA/ESA/STScI/Univ. Waterloo/B.McNamara; Radio: NRAO/Ohio Univ./L.Birzan et al.