Thick blankets of gas and dust hide some of the biggest black holes in the solar system. These holes are present in the middle of the galaxies just devouring material.
Scientists were able to recently have a sneak at five such black hole using NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), although the black holes are so well hidden observing them is quite a task but NuStar is able to detect them by using high energy X-rays. These high energy X-rays are able to give visuals through the gas and dust enveloping the black holes.
The research which was presented at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales on July 6th by astronomers at Durham University, United Kingdom showed evidence which points to the existence of millions of massive black holes present in the universe and hidden from plain view.
The astronomers observed nine galaxies, with the help of NuStar, where these gigantic black holes are thought to be very active but concealed. Black holes were found in five of those galaxies and were actively devouring the material around them.
Scientists would not have been able to locate and observe these black holes if it were not for NuStar, which was developed in 2012 and is able to detect much higher-energy X-rays than previous satellite observatories.
“Thanks to NuSTAR, for the first time, we have been able to clearly identify these hidden monsters that are predicted to be there, but have previously been elusive because of their surrounding cocoons of material,” said George Lansbury of Durham University, lead author of the findings accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal.
Up till now only five such holes have been found but scientists are positive that as they progress across the universe they will locate many such enormous black holes.
High-energy X-rays are more penetrating than low-energy X-rays, so by using NuStar the scientists can go deeper into the gas surrounding the black hole and see exactly how big these holes are and why are only some of them hidden and not others stated Daniel Stern, the project scientist for NuSTAR at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
NuSTAR is a Small Explorer mission led by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Virginia, built the spacecraft.