NASA missions monitor a waking black hole

NASA missions monitor a waking black hole

NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, the Japanese experiment on the International Space Station called the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) also picked up the flare.

The outburst came from V404 Cygni, a binary system located about 8,000 light-years away that contains a black hole. Every couple of decades the black hole fires up in an outburst of high-energy light, becoming an X-ray nova. Until the Swift detection, it had been slumbering since 1989.

An X-ray nova is a bright, short-lived X-ray source that reaches peak intensity in a few days and then fades out over a period of weeks or months. The outburst occurs when stored gas abruptly rushes toward a neutron star or black hole. By studying the patterns of the X-rays produced, astronomers can determine the kind of object at the heart of the eruption.

"Relative to the lifetime of space observatories, these black hole eruptions are quite rare," said Neil Gehrels, Swift's principal investigator at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "So when we see one of them flare up, we try to throw everything we have at it, monitoring across the spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays."

Astronomers classify this type of system as a low-mass X-ray binary. In V404 Cygni, a star slightly smaller than the sun orbits a black hole 10 times its mass in only 6.5 days. The close orbit and strong gravity of the black hole produce tidal forces that pull a stream of gas from its partner. The gas travels to a storage disk around the black hole and heats up to millions of degrees, producing a steady stream of X-rays as it falls inward.

But the disk flips between two dramatically different conditions. In its cooler state, the gas resists inward flow and just collects in the outer part of the disk like water behind a dam. Inevitably the build-up of gas overwhelms the dam, and a tsunami of hot bright gas rushes toward the black hole.

On June 15, NASA's Swift caught the onset of a rare X-ray outburst from a stellar-mass black hole in the binary system V404 Cygni. Astronomers around the world are watching the event. In this system, a stream of gas from a star much like the sun flows toward a 10 solar mass black hole. Instead of spiraling toward the black hole, the gas accumulates in an accretion disk around it. Every couple of decades, the disk switches into a state that sends the gas rushing inward, starting a new outburst. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Astronomers relish the opportunity to collect simultaneous multiwavelength data on black hole binaries, especially one as close as V404 Cygni. In 1938 and 1956, astronomers caught V404 Cygni undergoing outbursts in visible light. During its eruption in 1989, the system was observed by Ginga, an X-ray satellite operated by Japan, and instruments aboard Russia's Mir space station.

"Right now, V404 Cygni shows exceptional variation at all wavelengths, offering us a rare chance to add to this unique data set," said Eleonora Troja, a Swift team member at Goddard.

Ongoing or planned satellite observations of the outburst involve NASA's Swift satellite, Chandra X-ray Observatory and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, as well as Japan's MAXI, the European Space Agency's INTEGRAL satellite, and the Italian Space Agency's AGILE gamma-ray mission. Ground-based facilities following the eruption include the 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias operated by Spain in the Canary Islands, the University of Leicester's 0.5-meter telescope in Oadby, U.K., the Nasu radio telescope at Waseda University in Japan, and amateur observatories.

V404 Cygni has flared many times since the eruption began, with activity ranging from minutes to hours. "It repeatedly becomes the brightest object in the X-ray sky—up to 50 times brighter than the Crab Nebula, which is normally one of the brightest sources," said Erik Kuulkers, the INTEGRAL project scientist at ESA's European Space Astronomy Centre in Madrid. "It is definitely a 'once in a professional lifetime' opportunity."

In a single week, flares from V404 Cygni generated more than 70 "triggers" of the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) aboard Fermi. This is more than five times the number of triggers seen from all objects in the sky in a typical week. The GBM triggers when it detects a gamma-ray flare, then it sends numerous emails containing increasingly refined information about the event to scientists on duty.

Every time the GBM recovered from one trigger, V404 Cygni set it off again, resulting in a torrent of emails. The event prompted David Yu, a GBM scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, to comment on social media: "Achievement Unlocked: Mailbox spammed by a blackhole."


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Jun 30, 2015
To be sure, the only thing they are monitoring is an increase in output. The blathering about of black holes and such is pure, unadulterated conjecture.

Jun 30, 2015
Why is that cantdrive? Because you can't see the blackhole with your own eyes?

Jul 01, 2015
Why is that cantdrive? Because you can't see the blackhole with your own eyes?

Nobody ever, anywhere has seen a black hole. Other than of course on YouTube cartoons. But no, that's not why, nope. They are abominations of science, mathematical constructs without basis in reality. Fictional monsters from bad Disney movies and Kip Thorne's fanciful imagination. No, the reason is because real physical phenomena cannot have an origin in mathematical equations.

Jul 01, 2015
"Why is that cantdrive? Because you can't see the blackhole with your own eyes?"

What must be the reason to beleave in something that you can not see and can not test with scientific experiments whether it exist? Rational or irational?

Jul 01, 2015
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a woman who wasn't there.
She wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish she'd go away...

When I came home last night at three,
The woman was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn't see her there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little woman who wasn't there,
She wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish she'd go away ..


Jul 01, 2015
DNS attack via black hole.....nah, never work...

Jul 05, 2015
@CD85

"They are abominations of science, mathematical constructs without basis in reality. Fictional monsters from bad Disney movies and Kip Thorne's fanciful imagination."

Very well said.

"No, the reason is because real physical phenomena cannot have an origin in mathematical equations."

Yet this is what they want us to believe - from the GR of Einstein to "Our Mathematical Universe" of Tegmark!

These intermittent and unpredictable high energy radiation from the core of the galaxy most probably have their origin in the annihilation reaction of chance accumulated antimatter clouds when they meet matter clouds. The high energy at the core of the galaxies facilitate matter/antimatter pair production from the virtual particles of the quantum vacuum, where antimatter has the possibility to chance accumulate in various formation and for different time period before annihilating with the surrounding matter. But for official physics there can be no antimatter in the universe!

Jul 05, 2015
@ JeanTate:

As self-proclaimed champion of official physics, you should know better. According to BBT narrative, equal amount of matter and antimatter were created in the initial bang. But (as there is always a convenient escape clause) there was a slight excess of matter after the big annihilation process that constitutes the present matter content in the universe, while the radiation from the annihilation process gave the present CMBR.

Accordingly, some antimatter now can arise only from secondary processes or sources like radioactive decay, pair production etc; but not in tangible accumulation. I am responding to you only because I did not have enough space in the comment above to elaborate my position and to avoid some misunderstanding that may arise.

If official physics accepts the presence of large scale antimatter in the universe, it will have its own "annihilation"!

Jul 06, 2015
According to BBT narrative
is that the new BBC channel? i thought they just normally added a number after BBC... like BBC2... huh!
official physics
you still haven't actually defined this so that there can be any logical discourse WRT the subject...

Jul 07, 2015
According to BBT narrative
is that the new BBC channel? i thought they just normally added a number after BBC... like BBC2... huh!
official physics
you still haven't actually defined this so that there can be any logical discourse WRT the subject...


Your post contains no science, and thus no valid refutation. Phys.Org is not facebook nor is it the Jerry-Springer Show. Please read the comment guidelines and use the scientific method next time.

Jul 07, 2015
....equal amount of matter and antimatter were created in the initial bang. But [...] there was a slight excess of matter after the big annihilation process that constitutes the present matter content in the universe, while the radiation from the annihilation process gave the present CMBR.


The matter / antimatter annihilation process is thought to have occurred less than one second after the BB, while the CMBR radiation was effectively freed and frozen into its given frequency (to be redshifted) at around 300,000 years after the BB,... once the universe became transparent to light on account of the formation of stable atoms,... prior to which the plasma scattered light.

Perhaps if you're mistaken here, there are other points of misunderstanding?

Why there is an excess of matter over anti-matter is presently a unsolved problem, but in any case while the BB might be defective (GR breaks down at infinities) it is certainly not a "con".

Jul 07, 2015
@ Noumenon:
Thanks for your response and interest in my views. I am a "con" (also in The Guardian as "futurehuman") to GR and the Big Bang narrative; based on observational, quantum dynamical and philosophical (dialectical) considerations. But I am no fan of EU. If you noticed my other recent comments in physorg you will see why. If you are interested, I re-quoted for example, some references I gave few times before in this forum, for your convenience:
http://redshift.v...2MAL.pdf

http://www.amazon...40414445

The infinity, lack of tangible antiparticles, the presence of iron and other heavy elements far in the quasars and the intergalactic space, local quasars, the ring and shell like structure of galaxies and even stars, the quantization in the position and the redshifts of the galaxies etc. are among other things that are incompatible with Big Bang and GR. Cntd. below:


Jul 07, 2015
@ Noumenon: Contd.

Mathematical idealism based GR has become the new epicycles of the cosmos, where any new phenomena and observation are explained by adding additional parameters as needed and/or by incorporating new mystical ("dark"/black) objects in the old theory. It is not only me, Arp and few other crackpots who are saying this. Mainstream and famous ones have also have joined the chorus of criticizing the "excesses" in modern New Physics:
http://www.nature...-1.16535

http://www.nature...-1.17859


Jul 07, 2015
Mathematical idealism based GR has become the new epicycles of the cosmos, where any new phenomena and observation are explained by adding additional parameters as needed and/or by incorporating new mystical [dark matter / energy]


There are indeed instances of mathematical idealism and metaphysics in present science, where some let the mathematical structure do the physical interpretation. Some are speaking out against this, yes, like Smolin, etc.

However, there has also been cases where the mathematical structure predicted new physics,... Dirac's use of matrices to make the Schrodinger equation linear for SR predicted antimatter .... Einstein could have predicted expansion of the universe had he not added the cosmological constant. It's valid to have added that term, but not for the original reason of Einstein.

.....

Jul 07, 2015
.... GR is an empirically verified physical theory, so it does not make sense to say it is "wrong". It is valid in it's given realm of applicability. It is good enough that it is valid to use it to derive that there is more matter around galaxies than is detectable via EM,.... and it is valid to add a term (which is not an extra parameter) to account for accelerated expansion. A theory is simply a way of making predictions,.... however,... if the theory makes predictions of DM or gravitational waves, then eventually one expects them to be observable,...... that they are not yet, does not invalidate the theory, unless they can be ruled out as existing.

Wrt dark-matter,... it has always been a presumption of science that everything existent is also observable with the same form of matter in which we're constituted. It's like Einstein's presumption of a static universe that justified the adding of the lambda term.

Jul 07, 2015
..... there is proper physics, then there is mathematical idealism which leads to outright metaphysics. If you understand that the mathematical formulation is not itself the physical world you won't likely let it guide you blindly into metaphysics nor will you accuse an empirically verified theory of just being epicycles,.... every theory is epicycles in the sense that it is not itself reality, but merely a model to allow for predictions.

Jul 07, 2015
Crackpots: "Scientists don't know everything!"
Scientists: "You're right, our models still have open questions in them. In the meantime we've given names to some of those open questions."
Crackpots: "See! Scientists are fudging their models because they aren't working!"

There's no winning the war against anti-science demagogues. They
1) don't understand the actual science
2) use scientific words in ways that differ from how scientists mean the same words
3) only publish their demagoguery in verbal discussion form, never in a scientific form where a model explains current results and predicts the outcomes of future experiments.

Jul 07, 2015
@ Noumenon: Thoughtful comments, thanks. You raised basic questions on the relation of experiment/ empiricism vs. theory, the role of models, the status of human knowledge, prediction, verification etc. of theories; that can hardly be discussed in a forum like this. I can refer you to the following two articles in The Guardian and other articles where I comment as "futurehuman" in the Blog, "Life and Science" by Prof. Butterworth of UCL, who is also the head of the British Team with the Large Hadron Collider.
http://www.thegua...collider
http://www.thegua...ltiplier
As far as predictability and falsifiability are concern these are the philosophical position of Newtonian physics based on causality and are valid for very simple cases; hardly apply to complicated cases like biology, quantum dynamics, where dialectical chance and necessity rule.

Jul 07, 2015
@BigBangCon, thank you for your link, I enjoyed your post there. As you may have gathered from my screen name, I feel that Kantian epistemology is fundamentally important to science, in particular modern physics. I have posted many times here to that effect.

IMO, the non-intuitive nature of QM is a physical confirmation of Kant's core philosophy,.... that the a-priori intellectual faculties determine the form of experience and so the conditions for the [intuitive] understanding. QM has exposed our a-priori conceptual structure as an artificial synthesis of reality.

Indeed, the nuclear physicist, Abraham Pais, once proclaimed Niels Bohr to be the natural successor to Immanuel Kant, in reference to Copenhagen Interpretation.

However, there is a sense in which Kant was wrong; we can in fact acquire valid predictive knowledge despite that that knowledge is non-intuitive, as is the case with QM,.... the most accurate theory to date,.... albeit not of noumenal reality.


Jul 07, 2015
..... to paraphrase Feynmann, 'no one understands quantum mechanics'. He means intuitively.

The epistemological truth uncovered by Hume and Kant, does not logically imply idealism, nor an anti-science position for those who take a positivist outlook, that theories are merely a means of linking observables in a way that allows for predictions, rather than a statement of Independent Reality (apart from experience).

Jul 07, 2015
For example, if one is a Realist, they may interpret GR as implying that space-time is curved merely on account its mathematical structure (a metric on a pseudo-Riemannian manifold),... but that alone would imply no such thing as space and time are not physical substances to be observed independently of there use in ordering experience. In fact in GR, space and time are operationally Defined as physical systems.

Jul 08, 2015
@ Noumenon, please stop posting [irrelevant adjective deleted] philosophy at a science site.

Your post contains no peer reviewed science germane to the present article. Please read the comment guidelines and use the scientific method next time. You have been reported.

//sarcasm [//satire]

Jul 08, 2015
@Noumenon

Thanks! I enjoyed your comments too. Yes, I guessed that you are a Kantian. And your sober and thoughtful responses reflected that. You are unlike few I met in this forum and many in the Guardian, (even some respectable scientists) who abhor philosophy, think very mechanically and mathematically only; but who are inherently shallow and necessarily dogmatic and who will react impulsively to anything outside their horizon.

I not only criticize some aspects, the basis, and the direction of modern physics, but have offered tentative alternative ideas based on materialist dialectics; following mainly Frederick Engels and quantum electrodynamics. I was actively inspired by Chip Arp – a noble man and a model scientist.


Jul 08, 2015
@JeanTate
"Also, to the best of my knowledge, you have yet to offer a serious alternative to concordance cosmological models, an alternative that is supported by quantitative analyses of relevant astronomical data."

It is impossible for a single individual to accomplish such a task. I am another ordinary and humble scientist, who is not happy with certain aspects of modern physics. I have ventured some alternative ideas, which are subject to consideration, rejection, modification, further development by others and so on; like any other ideas in the history of science. Whether or not these will endure, only time will judge. Regards




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