(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of astrophysicists has identified a place where powerful and high-energy X-rays are ejected into space from an inner region of space shaped like a giant aquatic mammal, the manatee.
They found that the spectrum of the object at this location shows the presence of a “non-classical acceleration process” where particles are injected and accelerated again in powerful jets of energy emitted by the black hole.
But there is no need to worry that it will be able to irradiate us, since its location is more than 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilometers from us.
It has long been known that an astronomical object, referred to as SS 433, contains a black hole that causes energy to be ejected through the Milky Way in the form of jets of high-energy particles.
Considered the first known microquasar, it sits at the center of what remains of an exploding star in the constellation Akila.
“This amazing system is like a beautiful manatee in space and is the only known supernova remnant in our galaxy (out of about 400 similar objects) that hosts a black hole,” says University of Southern California astrophysicist Dr. Samar Safi-Harb.
Scientists have been able to create a striking color image of this remarkable astronomical object. Explosions of energy end in two “earlobes” glowing on radio waves, carved jets that rush through space at a quarter of the speed of light.
“The space along the jet trajectory glows brightly in high-energy X-rays and gamma rays at distances of tens of light-years from the black hole, but is not visible to the naked eye,” says graduate student Mac Inteer.
SS 433 is so powerful that astrophysicists have been looking for high-energy gamma rays in the area. It took almost 20 years for it to be discovered; in 2018, researchers announced the discovery of high-energy TeV (tera-electron-volt) gamma rays from this system. However, the location of particle acceleration has not yet been accurately determined.
Using the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton satellite and NASA‘s NuSTAR satellite, state-of-the-art orbiting X-ray telescopes, combined with data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray telescope, the research team was able to pinpoint the location of the “hardest” (or highest-energy) X-ray region near SS 433 , which is believed to be the start of the large scale east jet ejection.
Dr. Kaya Mori, associate and astrophysicist at Columbia University in New York, says this powerful energy source, now thought to accelerate particles to very high energies, is a strong candidate for the Cosmic Pevatron, a source that accelerates cosmic rays to peta-electronvolt, or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 volts.
“Given the unusual nature of the spectrum and the location of the source, this discovery challenges the theory of particle acceleration and points to the injection and re-excitation of SS 433 jets at large distances, almost 100 light-years from the black hole. SS 433 tells us about a rare case of a supernova remnant powered by a black hole, microquasars, superluminous X-ray sources (a growing class of X-ray sources whose nature is under discussion) and is a micro version of an active galaxy,” says Safi-Harb.
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