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X-rays have been detected from behind a black hole for the first time ever

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  • X-rays have been detected from behind a black hole for the first time ever

    As predicted by Einstein

    Researchers at Stanford University have found an odd pattern while observing the X-rays from the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy 800 million light-years away. The black hole, it appears, is spewing out these rays into the universe around it.

    Dan Wilkins, who made the observations, saw a number of thrilling, but not unusual, bright X-ray flares. Then, the telescopes caught a surprise: more X-ray flashes that were smaller, later, and had different "colors" than the bright flares.

    Such a phenomenon has been theorized to exist before and is explained by the fact that as gas descends into a supermassive black hole, brilliant flares of X-ray emissions are produced -- exactly as seen by researchers.

    Short X-ray flashes were then observed after the flares subsided. These flashes corresponded to the reflection of the flares from the far edge of the disc, which had been curved around the black hole by its potent gravitational field. The flares then reverberated off of the gas plunging towards the black hole.

    Although even a rudimentary understanding of black holes reveals that this is a weird place for light to originate from, the theory suggests that these bright echoes are compatible with X-rays reflected from behind the black hole.

    “Any light that goes into that black hole doesn’t come out, so we shouldn’t be able to see anything that’s behind the black hole,” explained Wilkins, who is a research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory."

    "It is another strange characteristic of the black hole, however, that makes this observation possible. “The reason we can see that is because that black hole is warping space, bending light and twisting magnetic fields around itself,” Wilkins added.

    The odd discovery was described in a study that appeared on July 28, 2022, in Nature (linked below). It is the first direct observation of light coming directly from behind a black hole, a scenario that Einstein's theory of general relativity predicted but which had never been verified before.

    The magnetic field becomes completely broken as a result of the black hole's strong spin, which causes it to arch so high above the black hole and spin erratically that it has been given the term "corona." This phenomenon is similar to what occurs around our own Sun.

    “This magnetic field getting tied up and then snapping close to the black hole heats everything around it and produces these high energy electrons that then go on to produce the X-rays,” explained Wilkins.

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