Posted by Richard Willet Posted on 20 August 2020

Dirty dancing: A small black hole is stripping, lighting up its binary star in time to a beat, and scientists don’t know how (it’s called frequency and vibration – very simple really)

A surprisingly small active black hole located 15,000 light-years away is lighting up a neighboring gas cloud to a specific, shared rhythm, in a strange but fascinating phenomenon.

The black hole system in question is called SS 433 and is considered a Microquasar: the black hole measures between 10 and 20 solar masses while its binary companion star is 30 times the mass of our sun.  The pair orbit each other at a distance of roughly 100 light-years every 13 days, with the gas cloud pulsating in time with the underlying rhythm of the black hole.

The exact cause of this pulsing is unknown but it is unlikely to be plasma jets emanating from the black hole and it instead may be some form of galactic light show courtesy of cosmic rays. 

Cosmic rays are high-energy protons that travel almost at the speed of light and, as the black hole is wobbling on its rotational axis like a spinning top, the behavior of its cosmic rays is already somewhat eye-catching.

Read More: A small black hole is stripping, lighting up its binary star in time to a beat, and scientists don’t know how

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