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Black Hole has observed ‘awakening’ for the first time

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Black Hole has observed 'awakening' for the first time

Most galaxies are believed to have a supermassive black hole at their center.

Paris, France:

Astronomers have observed for the first time a supermassive black hole awakening and setting fire to the heart of its host galaxy, the European Southern Observatory said on Tuesday.

The galaxy 300 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Virgo had been quiet for decades until late 2019, when it suddenly started shining brighter than ever before.

The center of the Milky Way – where a supermassive black hole is believed to be located – has been emitting a variety of radiation ever since.

“This behavior is unprecedented,” Paula Sanchez Saez, an astronomer at the European Southern Observatory and first author of a new study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, said in a statement.

The “most tangible option” to explain this brightening is that the astronomers observed “the activation of a massive black hole in real time,” said co-author Lorena Hernandez Garcia.

Most galaxies – including our own Milky Way – are believed to have a supermassive black hole at their center.

These cosmic giants are invisible by definition; not even light can escape the pull of their awesome power.

The only way to observe black holes is when they destroy something huge that emits light in its death throes: like a star that has gotten too close and is torn apart.

“These giant monsters are usually asleep,” explained co-author Claudio Ricci.

But for the galaxy SDSS1335+0728, “we were able to observe the awakening of the huge black hole, which suddenly began to feast on gas available in its environment and became very bright,” the astrophysicist added.

Initial observations show that the black hole has 1.5 million times more mass than the Sun, enough to be classified as a supermassive black hole.

But it’s still on the lighter side, as the real heavyweights can easily exceed a billion times the mass of the Sun.

The international team of astronomers is analyzing data from a number of telescopes in the hope of determining whether the black hole’s activity is temporary – perhaps caused by a star tearing apart – or whether it will remain active for a long time.

“This is something that could also happen to our own Sgr A*,” said Hernandez Garcia, the supermassive black hole in the Milky Way.

But luckily for us, our own black hole remains fast asleep.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)