Between 2017 and 2018, several telescopes captured strange behavior in a supermassive black hole 236 million light-years from here. Now they have announced the discovery of the reason for this strange phenomenon and it is an extraordinary event: the reversal of their poles.
What was observed and where?
Astronomers initially observed in mid-2018 that a distant galaxy (known simply as 1ES 1927+654) began to emit more light than usual. Reviewing the observations, they found that the galaxy had begun to “light up” in late 2017.
A string of telescopes, both in orbit and on Earth, have made observations of the galaxy, at the center of which is a supermassive black hole. In addition to the emission of visible light, these telescopes also captured the X-rays emitted by the black hole. These, instead of intensifying like visible light, dimmed for a period, then returned to normal emissions.
Initially it was thought that this burst of light was due to the black hole absorbing a star and that the extreme force of gravity from it had disintegrated it. However, that theory does not explain the disappearance of X-ray emissions.
The disc and the crown.
To understand what happened, it is necessary to take into account something that happens outside the black hole. The material that spins around the black hole at high speed in a spiral journey toward being engulfed is called an accretion disk. This matter travels at high speeds and acquires a high temperature, which makes it glow. It is what gives black holes their ring of brightness despite being objects that absorb light instead of radiating it.
The accretion disk is also what generates a magnetic field around the black hole, not the hole itself. According to the theory proposed by the scientists, the change in polarity would have been gradual, with opposing forces occurring simultaneously in different regions around the hole. This would have made the magnetic field around the hole disappear, and with it the X-ray emissions, before finally the new polarity had prevailed, restoring the magnetic field. Only backwards. Like compasses will point south.
Because it is important.
Scientists have proposed a theory that explains strange observations in a black hole. The surprising thing for the team was not that this pole shift occurred, but that it occurred in such a short period of time, and that is that they expected such a phenomenon to occur. over millions of years.
Like many other galaxies, the Milky Way has a black hole at its center, so knowing how galaxies behave millions of light-years away can give us perspective on our own neighborhood. Astronomers now hope to be able to detect more phenomena like this to continue collecting information.
Inversions at the poles, a common phenomenon that will occur on Earth.
Galactic centers are not the only objects that see their poles reversed. The Sun reverses its poles every 11 years or so, a phenomenon closely related to its cycles.
The poles of the Earth are also not set in stone (metaphorically). The magnetic poles change and hence there is not only a gap between the magnetic and geographic north pole, but the latter changes location from time to time. However, a total reversal, that is, the north magnetic pole being exchanged with the south, is an event that is calculated to occur. every hundreds of thousands of years. The next time it happens it may have effects on all of humanity, who knows if these discoveries could help us prevent its consequences.
Image | NASA