Identifying the Mysterious Features near Supermassive black Holes

Astronomers have long been perplexed by mysterious properties observed at the heart of many large galaxies.

At the heart of the galaxy, there is a dense region known as active galactic nuclei (AGNs), where matter spirals into the supermassive black hole.

These black holes, however, are surrounded by fast-moving gas that has been found to give off fewer emissions than expected; causing some to suspect AGNs may actually be home to two black holes, not one.

Now, a new study conducted by scientists has finally pinpointed what could be the explanation, revealing that small dusty clouds might be to blame for skewing what we see, creating the appearance of asymmetry.

According to the new study from the University of California, clouds of dust and not twin black holes are likely causing the unusual phenomena in AGNs.

‘We’ve shown that a lot of mysterious properties of active galactic nuclei can be explained by these dusty clouds causing changes in what we see,’ said Martin Gaskell, a research associate in astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC.

As gas spirals toward the black hole, it forms an accretion disk which gives off thermal radiation. Some of the light from the disk is absorbed and re-emitted, while a region of dust sits in a layer above.

‘Once the dust crosses a certain threshold it is subjected to the strong radiation from the accretion disk,’ says co-author Peter Harrington

According to the researchers, the dust clouds can make the light from behind look fainter.

When this effect is considered in the models, the gas no longer appears to have a changing, asymmetrical distribution as previously noted, instead, it appears uniform and symmetric.

  • Source: Daily Mail



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