Supermassive black holes could create the biggest “tsunamis” in the universe – .

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Supermassive black holes could create the biggest “tsunamis” in the universe – .


TORONTO – When an earthquake occurs underwater on Earth, it can create a tsunami – a ripple effect of gigantic proportions.

Now, a new study indicates that in space, supermassive black holes can create tsunami-like structures.

The NASA-funded study was published June 15 in the Astrophysical Journal. The researchers used computer simulations to model the environment of a supermassive black hole and found that tsunami-like structures can form through gas escaping from the black hole’s gravitational pull.

According to NASA, these structures could be the largest tsunami-like structures in the universe.

A supermassive black hole has a mass greater than the mass of a million suns and is considered the largest category of black holes. These black holes feed on matter and gases that swirl around them, forming a system that astrophysicists call the “active galactic nucleus”.

The strong winds carried by X-rays from the center of the nucleus create what astrophysics calls a “flow”, pushing matter out of the center. In the flow, X-rays can produce clouds of gas around the black hole.

“These clouds are ten times hotter than the surface of the Sun and move at the speed of the solar wind, so they’re pretty exotic objects that you wouldn’t want an airplane to fly over,” the lead author said. Tim Waters in a press release. from NASA.

During the simulations, Waters and his team found that these clouds can turn into waves when the black hole loses its grip on the matter. These waves can then form vortices 10 light years from the black hole when they interact with warm winds, according to NASA.

The simulations also show that x-rays from the plasma near the black hole inflate pockets of heated gas in the black hole’s atmosphere, allowing the hot plasma to rise like a balloon and meet the cooler gas clouds. surrounding areas.

This allows the clouds to form a pattern that astrophysicists call a Kármán vortex street, resembling a tsunami structure.

Previous theories have suggested that clouds form spontaneously through fluid instability or that magnetic fields have been implicated in propelling cooler gas into the wind.

“While this all made sense in hindsight, it was initially quite confusing to observe that thermal instability cannot produce cold gas directly, but it can replace magnetic fields by lifting cold gas in the wind. Waters said.

NASA says these findings have yet to be observed by satellites, but plasma near active galactic nuclei in these black holes has been observed by observatories on Earth at temperatures and speeds compatible with the simulations.

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