Researchers capture the sound of a black hole swallowing a star; listen up

posted on 05/04/2022 18:01

The moment a black hole pulls a star's gas and dust into it - (credit: Aurore Simonnet and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

The moment a black hole pulls a star’s gas and dust into it – (credit: Aurore Simonnet and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

A group of astronomers from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) managed to transform the moment when a black hole swallows a star into audible sound waves. In an audio made available on Monday (2/5) by the institution, it is possible to hear a strong sound that varies between low and high pitch, which, in fact, is the reproduction of light echoes emitted by the large gravitational wells when sucking gas. and dust from an orbiting star. Listen:

The recording is a reproduction in sound waves of the emission of light echoes, called X-ray echoes, produced at the moment when the black hole swallows the star. The conversion to sound waves was done with the help of music and education researchers at MIT.

How the capture and conversion were done

To capture the moment, scientists used NASA’s Nicer telescope, the high-resolution X-ray equipment aboard the International Space Station. The device captured 26 black hole X-ray systems, and 10 of them were so close to the telescope that they were chosen for observation because they are in an ideal position to capture and discern the echoes.

Eight of the 10 systems were not previously known. The movements were captured clearly. First, the black hole, dark and lightless, hardens, and causes a corona of high-energy photons with a jet of particles—the beginning of the light echo; then the gravitational well emits a high-energy flash and then the phenomenon returns to a “soft” low-energy state and goes back to being black.

The flash is the end of the devouring process and causes an expansion of the region of high-energy plasma outside the black hole. Scientists then transformed this echo process into sound waves.

In the sound simulation video, the white circle is the location of the black hole’s event horizon and the light echoes are the color waves. Each color represents the light echoes, according to the power emitted by the black hole. Echoes with lower frequency are of lower pitch and those with higher frequency are higher pitched.

Discovery is part of another project

The study that allowed a black hole to reproduce at the moment it devours a star is part of a survey done to scour satellite data for signals from black hole echoes to reconstruct the immediate vicinity of these gravitational wells.

By observing the explosions of black holes, scientists realized that their role in the evolution of galaxies is primordial, but little understood by modern astrophysics. “Interestingly, these black hole binaries appear to be ‘mini’ supermassive black holes, and therefore by understanding the explosions in these small nearby systems, we can understand how similar explosions in supermassive black holes affect the galaxies in which they reside,” explains the physics professor. from MIT, Erin Kara.

In addition to Kara, Jingyi Wand, a graduate student at the Institute, and Matteo Lucchini and Ron Remillard also participated in the study. NASA also collaborated with the study.

About Raju Singh

Raju has an exquisite taste. For him, video games are more than entertainment and he likes to discuss forms and art.

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