Footage captured by NASA of a black hole 7,800 light years from Earth has been likened to a stargate.
A stargate is considered to be a device or portal, like a wormhole, which can transport someone to another location light years away in almost the blink of an eye; think the Einstein–Rosen device in the Stargate universe, or on the trippy end of the spectrum, 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s climax.
New imagery captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory has shown a ‘spectacular’ set of rings around a black hole, revealing more about the space dust that pervades our galaxy.
As per a statement from the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the black hole is ‘part of a binary system called V404 Cygni’ that is ‘actively pulling material away from a companion star — with about half the mass of the Sun — into a disk around the invisible object.’
As the material shows up in X-rays, astronomers refer to these systems as X-ray binaries. ‘Cosmic dust is not like household dust but is more like smoke, and consists of tiny, solid particles,’ the statement explained.
The Swift observatory discovered the X-rays in June 2015. From here, Sebastian Heinz of the University of Wisconsin in Madison led a team of researchers in analysing its observations. After combining the images with optical data from Hawaii’s Pan-STARRS telescope, a composite showed eight separate concentric rings.
While the rings illustrate more about the black hole’s behaviour, it also tells astronomers more about the landscape between the system and Earth.
‘For example, the diameter of the rings in X-rays reveals the distances to the intervening dust clouds the light ricocheted off. If the cloud is closer to Earth, the ring appears to be larger, and vice versa. The light echoes appear as narrow rings rather than wide rings or haloes because the X-ray burst lasted only a relatively short period of time,’ the researchers wrote.
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Chandra X-ray Observatory
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