Listen to eerie sounds from resonant black holes

Astronomers have been able to pinpoint the locations of eight rare pairs of black holes and the stars that orbit them, thanks to the X-ray echoes they emit. Previously, there were only two known pairs that emit X-ray echoes in our galaxy.

Black hole binary files occur when these celestial phenomena orbit a star, which they sometimes use to siphon gas and dust as snacks.

Echoes have been turned into sound waves that can simply keep you awake at night.

The study’s findings, published Monday in The Astrophysical Journal, could help scientists understand how black holes evolve.

Black hole eruption anatomy

The research team developed an automated tool called the “Resonance Engine” to search for sounds from black hole binary files in satellite data.

During their study, the researchers used the Resonance Engine to look at data collected by NASA’s Neutron Star Inner Composition Researcher, or NICER, which is part of the International Space Station.

A black hole pulls material from an adjacent star and into a magnifying glass in this image.

“We see new resonance signatures in eight sources”, the author of the first study Jingyi Wang, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said in a statement. “Black holes range in mass from five to 15 times the mass of the sun, and are all in binary systems with normal, low-mass stars that look like the sun.”

After collecting the eight echoes, the researchers compared them to see how a black hole changes when it releases an X-ray burst. A similar portrait emerged for the eight binary systems.

When black holes pull material from an orbiting star, they can eject bright jets of particles flowing into space at speeds close to the speed of light. The research team observed that during this process, the black hole will release a final, highly energetic glow before entering a low-energy state.

A black hole that feeds star birth forces scientists to duplicate

When this last explosion occurs, it could mean that the highly active plasma ring (or crown) of the black hole releases activated particles before it disappears.

Astronomers can apply this finding to larger supermassive black holes, which act as “machines” in the center of galaxies and can launch particles that can shape the galactic formation.

“The role of black holes in the evolution of galaxies is a major issue in modern astrophysics,” said study author Erin Kara, an assistant professor of physics at MIT.

“Interestingly, these binary black holes appear to be ‘mini’ oversized black holes, so by understanding the explosions in these small, nearby systems, we can understand how similar eruptions in oversized black holes affect the galaxies in which they live.”

Converting X-ray echoes to sound

The echoes of these X-ray emissions can help astronomers map the location of black holes. It is no different from the sound tracking that bats use to navigate. Bats release calls that bounce off obstacles and return as echoes, and the length of the echo bounce helps bats determine the distance of objects.

Black hole echoes are created by two types of X-ray light released by the crown, and astronomers can use the time it takes the telescope to detect the two types to watch a black hole change as it devours material from the star. .

Stargazing from the Black Hole of Our Galaxy Detected by Astronomers

Black hole echoes are not real sounds we can hear without help, so Kara partnered with Kyle Keane, a lecturer in materials science at MIT, and Ian Condry, professor at the Department of Anthropology at MIT, to turn them into sound waves.

The team monitored changes in X-ray echoes, determined time delays during the transition stages, and identified commonalities in the evolution of each black hole explosion.

The result sounds like something out of a 1950s science fiction movie.

“We are in the beginning of being able to use these bright echoes to reconstruct environments closer to the black hole,” Kara said. “Now we have shown that these echoes are usually observed and we are able to explore the connections between the disk of a black hole, the jet and the crown in a new way.”

And if you want to hear more scary black hole sounds, NASA has just released a remix of some sonic black holes for your acoustic pleasure.

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