Can light create a black hole

Rotating black hole creates a magnetic field jet

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September 08, 2020, 5:48 a.m.

A new letter has been found in the mysterious black hole alphabet. Two astrophysicists share this discovery in the journal "Nature Communications". A press release from the Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg.

The center of quasar 3C279 emits flickering gamma radiation, which is characteristic of the phenomenon of magnetic reconnection.
(Image: Amit Shukla / Indian Institute of Technology Indore)
August 21, 2020 - Black holes are at the center of almost all galaxies that have been studied so far. They have an unimaginably large mass and therefore attract matter, gas and even light. But they can also emit matter in the form of plasma jets - this is a kind of plasma jet that is pushed out of the center of the galaxy with enormous energy. A plasma jet can reach several hundred thousand light years into space.

When this intense radiation is emitted, the black hole remains invisible because the light rays in its vicinity are bent so much that a shadow is formed. This was recently reported by the research team of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration for the massive black hole in the giant elliptical galaxy M87.

In the quasar 3C279 - also a black hole - the EHT team found another phenomenon: the core of a plasma jet suddenly lit up at a distance of more than a thousand times from the shadow of the black hole. How the energy for this jet gets from the black hole to the core of the jet in an invisible way, such as through a chimney, has not yet been clarified.

Extremely flickering gamma radiation detected
The astrophysicist Amit Shukla, who researched at the Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg until 2018 and now works at the Indian Institute for Technology in Indore, has now observed this quasar with the NASA Fermi-LAT space telescope. He found out that the core of the jet found in the millimeter wavelength range also emits high-energy gamma radiation, but with an extremely flickering brightness. This can double within a few minutes, according to the journal Nature Communications.

The special pattern of the sequence of changes in brightness is characteristic of a universal process called magnetic reconnection, which occurs in many astrophysical objects with strong magnetic fields. Solar activity also has to do with the dynamics of magnetic fields and reconnection. This was recently shown by observing “campfires” in the solar atmosphere with the “Solar Orbiter” mission of the European Space Agency ESA.

Invisibly stored energy is suddenly released
But back to the Quasar 3C279: “When analyzing the data, I saw how the special pattern of magnetic reconnection emerged in the light curve. It seemed to me as if I had suddenly deciphered a hieroglyph in the alphabet of black holes, ”says Amit Shukla happily.

During reconnection, energy that is initially stored invisibly in the magnetic field is suddenly released in numerous “mini-jets”. Particles are accelerated in it, which then generate the observed gamma radiation. The magnetic reconnection would explain how the energy from the black hole gets to the core of the jet and where it ultimately comes from.

Energy from the rotating black hole
Professor Karl Mannheim, head of the JMU chair for astronomy and co-author of the publication, explains: “Space-time near the black hole in quasar 3C279 is forced to rotate with it. The rotating magnetic fields anchored there drive the plasma jet, which slows down the black hole and converts part of the rotational energy into radiation ”.

Gamma-ray flares from relativistic magnetic reconnection in the jet of the quasar 3C 279, A. Shukla & K. Mannheim, Nature Communications, August 21, 2020,

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Source: Julius Maximilians University of Würzburg

Author: editors