• Astronomers spotted a black hole shooting off powerful jets of cosmic materials
  • The black hole's accretion disk is filled with materials from a nearby star
  • Astronomers were able to film the black hole's behavior using the Chandra X-ray Observatory

A group of astronomers was able to film a black hole shooting jets of cosmic material into space. The astronomers noted that the materials in the jets came from a nearby star that the black hole is slowly devouring.

The astronomers were able to conduct their observations using the data collected by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, a powerful space telescope launched by NASA on July 23, 1999. They presented their findings in a study published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

For their study, the astronomers focused on a stellar mass black hole known as MAXI J1820+070. It is about eight times as massive as the Sun and is being orbited by a companion star.

According to the astronomers, as the star completes its orbit, its surface materials get stripped away by the black hole. These materials fall into the accretion disk, which is the swirling disk of matter around the black hole. The swirling motion of the disk heats up the materials inside it.

In certain cases, the cosmic materials escape the accretion disk through jets that shoot off into space. This is exactly what happened to MAXI J1820+070 when astronomers detected two jets of cosmic materials shooting off from the northern and southern regions of the black hole.

As noted by the astronomers, the jets moved at near light speeds. While one of the jets headed deep into space, the other one moved towards Earth’s directions. According to the astronomers, the jet did not pose a threat to Earth since MAXI J1820+070 is about 10,000 light-years away from the planet’s neighborhood.

Through observations made by the Chandra X-ray Observatory in November of 2018 and in February, May and June last year, the astronomers were able to create a video showing the jets of the black hole.

Through the space telescope’s X-ray imaging capabilities, the bright jets of material can be seen moving away from the black hole in opposite directions.

“We report the discovery of X-ray sources associated with the radio jets moving at relativistic velocities with a possible deceleration at late times,” the astronomers explained. “The broadband spectra of the jets are consistent with synchrotron radiation from particles accelerated up to very high energies by shocks produced by the jets interacting with the interstellar medium.”

Black Hole
Scientists continue to study the nature of dark matter. Pictured: In this handout from NASA/ESA, an artist's concept illustrates a quasar, or feeding black hole. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) revealed millions of potential black holes in its survey of the sky in 2011. NASA/Getty Images