Black holes famously produce no light, with their immense gravitational pull being so strong that light cannot escape. However, the irony is that the surrounding space around black holes produce some of the most powerful and wild lights in the known universe, researchers have revealed. Astrophysicists from Columbia University in New York developed a simulation to discover just how these powerful lights come to be.
They discovered that as electrons are sucked in to a black hole, the magnetic turbulence surrounding the black hole causes chaos.
The swirling and shoving of the gravitational pull of the electrons creates a tremendous magnetic field which can generate huge energetic waves of radiation.
Everything is sloshed together to create a heated frenzy which can channel materials into jets which eject light millions of light-years into space.
Luca Comisso, a postdoctoral research scientist at Columbia and first author on the study, said: “The region that hosts black holes and neutron stars is permeated by an extremely hot gas of charged particles, and the magnetic field lines dragged by the chaotic motions of the gas, drive vigorous magnetic reconnection.
“It is thanks to the electric field induced by reconnection and turbulence that particles are accelerated to the most extreme energies, much higher than in the most powerful accelerators on Earth, like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.”
Lorenzo Sironi, assistant professor of astronomy at Columbia and the study’s principal investigator, added: “We used the most precise technique—the particle-in-cell method—for calculating the trajectories of hundreds of billions of charged particles that self-consistently dictate the electromagnetic fields.
“And it is this electromagnetic field that tells them how to move.
“This is indeed the radiation emitted around black holes and neutron stars that make them shine, a phenomenon we can observe on Earth.”
The goal of the research was to give more of an insight into what is happening around the edges of a black hole – arguably the most mysterious entities in the universe.
Mr Comisso added: “We figured out an important connection between turbulence and magnetic reconnection for accelerating particles, but there is still so much work to be done.
“Advances in this field of research are rarely the contribution of a handful of scientists, but they are the result of a large collaborative effort.”
There are a few ways in which a black hole can form.
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Scientists believe the most common instance is when a star, thousands of times the size of the Sun, collapses in on itself when it dies – known as a supernova.
Another way is when a large amount of matter, which can be in the form of a gas cloud or a star collapses in on itself through its own gravitational pull.
Finally, the collision of two neutron stars can cause a black hole.
The gist of all three ways is that a massive amount of mass located in one spot can cause a black hole.
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