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Simple black hole scales

Simple black hole scales

Finding the mass of a black hole is not always easy – especially when it is far away from the center of the galaxy. The team of researchers has now discovered a surprising link that makes it easier to “weigh” black holes: mass can be obtained from fluctuations in the disk brightness of an object around multiple black holes. This method works for miraculous objects in galaxies and for stellar black holes emanating from stars, researchers write in the journal Science.

Due to the protection of angular velocity, the object does not fall directly into a black hole, but approaches it in a spiral path. As a result, a dense gas and dust disk may form around the core, which heats up and glows much brighter: in the case of supermassive black holes, these aggression discs sometimes glow brighter than the entire surrounding galaxy. The size of our solar system. Colin Burke and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the current study suggest that bodily processes on the accumulator disk can lead to irregular fluctuations in brightness. However, it is not yet clear which processes are responsible for this.

In search of explanation, Burke and his team evaluated archive data from various supermassive black holes. Astronomers focused on objects so that they could better estimate the mass using other methods. A total of 67 black holes in the solar mass range of ten thousand to ten billion eventually met the selection criteria of scientists. To their surprise, Burke and his colleagues found a clear correlation between the mass of a black hole and the characteristic property of luminous fluctuations in the optical range. The discovered relationship cannot be observed by black holes alone. This seems to apply to even the smallest mass of celestial bodies surrounded by a disk like white dwarf stars.

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According to Burke’s researchers, the results of the analysis show that the only physical mechanism that glows on all aggregate disks – regardless of the mass of the central object – is the same. Although this process is not yet known, this relationship is relevant for determining the mass of supermassive and stellar black holes with the help of bright fluctuations.