The German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzschild was the first man to theorize the existence of black holes. He did it more than a century ago, in 1916. At that time, everybody knew that if such monstrosities actually exist, than they are true cradles of mystery. As for nowadays, there is countless evidence for the existence of black holes. Einstein’s general relativity, the odd movement of various stars, and the photo taken at a black hole itself by NASA last year in April are all solid proof.
But even nowadays, when we know a lot more about black holes, these cosmic monsters can still amaze us. Astronomers concluded that the ‘heartbeat’ of a supermassive black hole from the center of a galaxy is more stable than they expected.
600 million light-years away from Earth
We should consider ourselves lucky that such a cosmic monster is located way too far from us ever to be able to pose a threat to our beloved planet. Astronomers first detected the signal of the black hole’s ‘heartbeat’ in 2007. When the astronomers took another good look at the black hole in 2018 by using the XMM-Newton X-ray satellite from ESA (European Space Agency), they were astonished to see the ‘heartbeat’ still going on by pretty much the same rhythm. In fact, it’s the longest sustained ‘heartbeat’ that the astronomers ever witnessed in a black hole.
What is the ‘heartbeat’ of a black hole
Black holes have a disk of material surrounding them, which is called an accretion disk. This disk produces X-ray light that’s detectable by telescopes and satellites. Scientists refer to the phenomenon as a heartbeat because the pulsating that surrounds the black hole makes a repetitive signal to emerge and be detected.
Chris Done is the study’s co-author and professor of physics at the Durham University’s Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy. He declared:
The main idea for how this heartbeat is formed is that the inner parts of the accretion disc are expanding and contracting,
The only other system we know which seems to do the same thing is a 100,000 times smaller stellar-mass black hole in our Milky Way.
The next step is for the scientists to conduct a full analysis of the black hole’s ‘heartbeat’ and compare the results to how some other black holes from our galaxy behave.
The study was published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.