Black holes are so peculiar that nobody could believe that they actually exist when the great German physicist Karl Schwarzschild first predicted their existence. These cosmic objects are able to defy the laws of physics themselves, which is truly mind-boggling. Within a black hole, time simply stops, the gravity is infinite, and even light gets guzzled in, which is believed not to have any mass.
A recent discovery tells us even more about how peculiar a black hole can become. A dead star likes to play dangerous, so it’s not so dead after all. It endures dancing around the edges of a black hole and being trapped on a nine-hour orbit around it. However, the black hole still drags in some of the star’s material, but without capturing it fully.
250 million light-years away from Earth
The location of the black hole struggling to catch the star is incredibly away from us: a quarter of a billion light-years is separating us from the supermassive black hole located at the heart of the GSN 069 galaxy. The black hole spills out X-ray flares every nine hours. Normally, black holes eject this type of material permanently as long as it drags enough material in, but this newfound black hole does it only when the star gets too close.
Astronomer Andrew King of the University of Leicester from the UK was the one that made the discovery of the star dancing around the edges of the black hole. He further explained what’s going on:
This white dwarf is locked into an elliptical orbit close to the black hole, orbiting every nine hours,
At its closest approach, about 15 times the radius of the black hole’s event horizon, gas is pulled off the star into an accretion disk around the black hole, releasing X-rays, which the two spacecraft are detecting.
The research has been published in the Royal Astronomical Society.