Supermassive black hole 'double burps' light

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Comerford presented the team's findings in a January 11 press briefing at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society held January 8-12 in Washington D.C. Great plumes of gas, matter and radiation can be ejected by black holes, and in fact, scientists theorized that these "burps" ought to come at pretty quick intervals if a black hole is well fed. A super-massive black hole 800 million light-years away just gave evidence of a cyclical feeding cycle, possibly confirming theories about the life cycles of these mysterious celestial objects. While even light can not escape the pull of one of these gravity wells, blacks holes do, very occasionally, "burp" back out chunks of half-consumed gas.

The team of scientists utilised two different space telescopes to observe this event.

Black holes, which can be a million times heavier than our Sun, are known to devour anything in their proximity.

A paper on the subject was published in a recent issue of The Astrophysical Journal. For comparison, one light-year is roughly six trillion miles. It was observed from the Hubble and Chandra X-Ray Telescopes and was found to be emitting two bubbles of gas - one from the north of the centre of the galaxy and other from the south.

The discovery is evidence that black holes can switch their power outputs on and off more repeatedly.

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The explanation for these gas-feeding events lies in a companion galaxy, which had previously collided with J1354.

With supermassive black holes, the gas that they accrete in space generates a lot of electromagnetic radiation as it becomes increasingly dense and is pulled towards the event horizon.

"This galaxy really caught us off guard", said Rebecca Nevin, a study co-author and doctoral student at CU Boulder. "This new burp is actually moving like a shock wave - it's coming out very fast, and so it's kind of like a sonic boom of a burp, whereas the gas to the south shows us an older burp that happens 100,000 years earlier before that newer burp". Now that researchers have discovered those belches, it helps them determine the pace of those processes.

Julie also said that this galactic burp is nothing to worry about.

Well, nearly nothing. As it turns out, supermassive black holes aren't always thorough when gobbling up star systems and solar debris.