Technology

In a first, X-ray helps NASA capture spinning black holes billions of light-years away

In a first, X-ray helps NASA capture spinning black holes billions of light-years away

Imaging a black hole is really difficult and can take years as they are very hard to see. However, with advanced technology researchers have used X-rays to detect spinning black holes in the cosmos.

NASA astronomers have used a combination of data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and gravitational lensing – the use of gravity from celestial bodies to magnify very distant objects – and spotted the spins of five supermassive black holes.

As explained by NASA, similar to whirlpools found in oceans, spinning black holes too create a swirl around them. But, instead of wind and water, they create disks of gas and dust heated to hundreds of millions of degrees that glow in X-ray light.

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The team made use of an in-between galaxy in order to get clear pictures of quasars consisting of the black holes. Data from Chandra offered a sharp-enough image for separating the multiple pictures that resulted from the lensing effect, reported Engadget.

Then microlensing – magnification using individual starts from the galaxy – further helped in detecting the spin in question. The smaller the areas emitting X-rays, the more likely it is that the black hole is spinning rapidly.

There were also some black holes spinning at incredibly fast speeds. The black hole in one quasar named Einstein Cross, was spinning about as rapidly as theoretically possible – 70% speed of light. All the other were spinning at about half that rate.

Moreover, this observation studied black holes lying in very distance quasars up to 10.9 billion light-years away.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019