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The black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy poses a new mystery for researchers

The black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy poses a new mystery for researchers

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Black holes are not as different as you think. New research reveals powerful magnetic fields and raises an exciting question.

MUNICH – Black holes are fascinating and mysterious celestial objects. They swallow everything that comes near them and let nothing escape, not even light. Therefore, they are not visible to the human eye, but also to telescopes and other auxiliary means. But a few years ago, a research consortium was able to capture the immediate surroundings of two black holes, including their “shadows.”

Images released by the team behind the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) of the M87* black hole at the heart of the galaxy M87 and the Sgr A* black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy have caused a stir around the world.

The Event Horizon telescope looks at the center of the Milky Way

Although Sagittarius A* is a thousand times smaller and less massive than M87*, the images of the two black holes are surprisingly similar. This led to the question of whether the two black holes share similarities in other aspects as well. To answer this question, my research team again looked at the center of the Milky Way, but this time in polarized light.

A new look at the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, this time in polarized light that reveals magnetic fields. The lines shown indicate the direction of polarization, associated with the magnetic field around the black hole's shadow. © EHT Cooperation

Polarized light, which oscillates in the preferred direction, is almost indistinguishable from natural light to the human eye. However, in the plasma surrounding black holes, scientists can better identify processes in polarized light and map magnetic field lines. That's exactly what the EHT research team did, and has now published a new image of the black hole Sgr A*.

The M87* and Sgr A* black holes are very similar

The image shows that the two black holes also have very similar features in polarized light: “We now see that there are strong, twisted, regular magnetic fields near the black hole at the center of the Milky Way,” says Sarah Isson of the center. for astrophysics at Harvard and the Smithsonian. When studying M87*, scientists previously discovered that magnetic fields in the region enable the black hole to hurl powerful jets of material back into the region. New images suggest this may also be true for Sagittarius A*.

“Combined with the fact that Sgr A* has a strikingly similar polarization structure to the larger and more powerful black hole M87*, we have learned that strong, ordered magnetic fields play a crucial role in how black holes interact with the gas and matter surrounding them.” “Around us,” explains Issoun, one of the project managers.

“By measuring polarized light from glowing hot gas near black holes, we can directly infer the structure and strength of the magnetic fields that permeate the flow of gas and matter that the black hole collects and expels,” asserts Angelo Ricarte, another project lead. Manager, in one notice. “We can use polarized light to learn more about astrophysics, the properties of gas and the processes that occur when a black hole grows.”

Polarized light reveals strong magnetic fields at the center of the Milky Way

The two black holes observed in polarized light share many similarities, including strong magnetic fields. This raises new questions in science. EHT deputy project scientist Mariafelicia De Laurentiis explains the current research questions: “With this sample of two black holes – with very different masses and very different host galaxies – it is important to know how much they agree and how they differ.”

“Since both indicate strong magnetic fields, this phenomenon may be a universal and perhaps fundamental feature of these types of systems,” she adds. One similarity between these two black holes may be jetting. While we observed a very clear jet on M87*, we have not yet been able to find it on Sgr A*.

Is the black hole at the center of the Milky Way spewing matter?

If such a burst – a beam of matter ejecting high-energy particles – exists, it may only be a matter of time before it is discovered. The team behind the Event Horizon telescope plans to target the black hole at the center of the Milky Way again in April 2024. In addition, expansions of participating telescopes are planned that will enable the production of high-quality movies of Sagittarius A* in the next decade and could detect a jet. Possible jet. (unpaid bill)

The editor wrote this article and then used an AI language model to improve at her own discretion. All information has been carefully checked. Find out more about our AI principles here.