(ORDO NEWS) — More recently, astronomers have described how the famous black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy is spewing streams of matter at speeds faster than the speed of light.
In 2019, the Event Horizon Telescope captured an image of M87, the world’s first photograph of a black hole, which made it incredibly famous.
This hole is located in the center of the galaxy of the same name, also known as NGC 4486.
The supergiant elliptical galaxy is about 53 million light-years from Earth, and its length is about 240,000 light-years – that is, it is slightly larger than the Milky Way.
What makes M87 stand out is its fantastic number of star clusters: 12,000 versus a measly 200 in our home galaxy.
The black hole itself is a separate phenomenon: it is about 6.5 billion times more massive than the Sun, and, in addition, it emits streams of hot “half-digested” stellar matter into space, the length of which is 5000 light years.
It is they who represent the very luminous halo that surrounds the black hole in the photo.
Astronomers say that long-term observations agree on one thing: matter is erupting from a black hole at a speed much faster than the speed of light.
Why is this happening and how is this even possible? As you know, because of the colossal gravity, a black hole attracts any matter that falls into its field.
As it approaches the event horizon, this matter accelerates, which, coupled with the friction of particles against each other, forms the so-called accretion disk.
However, not all of the matter will go inside the black hole: in fact, only a small part of it will end up there, and everything else will go back into space at great speed.
However, although the erupted substance takes the form of an elongated beam, it does not look like a uniform stream – it is more like lumpy, heterogeneous clots.
But wait: we were taught from school that there are no objects in the Universe that can move faster than the speed of light, right?
According to Brad Sneos, one of the co-authors of the study, scientists “did not break physics, but found in the Universe a unique example of superluminal motion.”
This phenomenon depends on the speed of the object and the trajectory of its movement in the line of sight of our eye.
When an object moves at a speed close to the speed of light, the illusion arises that this is happening at unrealistically high speeds. This is because matter actually travels almost as fast as the light it emits.
Didn’t understand anything? Don’t worry, it’s a big mystery to astronomers too.
Moreover, for the first time we are observing such a phenomenon in X-ray light, and therefore we cannot be sure that it is the substance that moves at superluminal speed, and not, say, light pulses.
By the way, the speed of the fastest flow exceeded the speed of light by as much as 6.3 times – there is something to break your head over!
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