Astronomers spot a ring of dust at the center of the Eye of Sauron

(ORDO NEWS) — The array of telescopes has made it possible for the first time to see a dust ring around a supermassive black hole in a neighboring galaxy.

The galaxy NGC 4151 is located relatively close to the Milky Way and in many ways similar to it. It is a barred spiral galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its active center, sometimes referred to as the Eye of Sauron due to its appearance.

New studies of this area have made it possible to see the inner ring of dust surrounding the black hole – a structure that has long been predicted in theory, but has never been observed so far.

It is believed that in the center of any sufficiently large galaxy there is a supermassive black hole with a mass of many millions and even billions of solar masses.

For example, for the Milky Way, it is estimated at more than four million, and for NGC 4151 – from 2.5 million to 30 million solar masses. Supermassive black holes actively absorb stars, gas and dust that are close enough to them.

Falling into the bowels of the hole, this substance spirals, accelerates and heats up to enormous speeds and temperatures, forming a bright accretion disk.

Sometimes, under the action of magnetic fields, narrow relativistic jets of particles, jets accelerated to near-light speeds, are ejected from its poles. Many details of these structures are described theoretically and predicted by models.

However, it has not yet been possible to directly examine gas and dust disks: they are too compact and are often overshadowed by surrounding accumulations of matter.

Astronomers spot a ring of dust at the center of the Eye of Sauron 2

But you can see the outer ring of dust, which is located at some distance and not too hot, so that it can retain individual dust particles, consisting of fairly heavy elements. This ring emits in the infrared range, and it was he who was able to observe Makoto Kishimoto (Makoto Kishimoto) and his colleagues.

The scientists used the CHARA array of telescopes at the Mount Wilson Observatory. The Eye of Sauron, NGC 4151, has proven to be particularly convenient for such observations, since this galaxy is relatively close and its active center radiates brightly.

Six CHARA telescopes, acting as a single interferometer, made it possible to view the dust ring with unprecedented resolution.

The ratio of its minor to major semiaxis is 0.7, the radius is estimated at 0.03 parsec, and the plane is oriented perpendicular to the jet emanating from the center.

In addition, the observations revealed a thinner outer dust cloud surrounding the central ring. Apparently, this substance is carried out to the periphery under the pressure of radiation and particles in the direction of the jet.


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