Supermassive black hole rises and shines


Science News reports that Astronomers watch as wake-up call rouses slumbering monster …

It’s unclear whether it was a stellar meal or simply gas that woke the sleeping giant.

But astronomers say the ongoing outburst recorded by a spacecraft since March 28 is the first time scientists have witnessed the sudden activation of a dormant supermassive black hole.

David Burrows of Penn State University in University Park and his colleagues report their findings on the burst, which has continued for more than 30 days, in an article posted at arXiv.org on April 25. Burrows declined to be interviewed because the team has submitted its article to Nature.

When NASA’s Swift spacecraft first spotted the fireworks in a distant galaxy in late March, researchers classified the event as a gamma-ray burst, which typically lasts for only a few minutes to perhaps an hour (SN Online: 4/7/11).

Swift must have caught the event only minutes after its onset; images taken by the craft an hour earlier showed no such activity from the galaxy, which lies about 3.8 billion light-years from Earth.

You can read it all here.

Don’t panic, its not in our Galaxy, so we are safe. But it does cause one to wonder what would happen to us if the Black Hole at the center of our galaxy did something similar … if 9and its a very big if) the jet was aimed directly at us, then it would be deep fried humans.

Leave a Reply