Scientists have made a remarkable discovery - a previously hidden black hole has emerged from obscurity. This colossal black hole is accompanied by a smaller partner that had remained undetected until now. Astronomers have recently confirmed the emission of light from this smaller black hole. When these two black holes orbit each other, they generate bursts of light, known as a blazar, which emits intense radiation into space, specifically in the OJ287 region.
Mauri Valtonen, who reported this discovery during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in New Mexico on June 7, emphasized the extraordinary nature of this find, stating, "We've never seen anything like this before."
Predictions made in early 2022 anticipated the most recent flare's appearance. Since that forecast, astronomers have diligently monitored OJ287 using both Earth-based and space telescopes to gain a clearer perspective.
Valtonen explained that the smaller black hole accumulates a substantial amount of disk matter, which subsequently falls into the secondary black hole, resulting in a substantial flare. In 2022, the monitoring team initially missed the flare due to its brevity. Nevertheless, they continued their nightly surveillance.
Astronomers have estimated the sizes of these black holes: the smaller one is roughly 150 million times the mass of the sun, while the larger one exceeds 18 billion solar masses.
This discovery could pave the way for a new research avenue. Scientists will now possess the knowledge to identify instances when a smaller black hole crosses paths with a larger one.
The blazar OJ287 is situated at a staggering distance of about 3.5 billion light-years from Earth. Researchers have been observing this object since the 1880s and have noted a notable increase in brightness every 11 to 12 years.
These brief flares from the blazar occur once in a decade, necessitating preparedness for the next event. Lisa Grossman suggested that the direct resolution of the two black holes might require a space-based radio telescope.
[Source: Science News]