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اكتشاف ثقب أسود هائل مخفي في حلقة من الغبار الكوني في مركز مجرة تبعد عنا 47 مليون سنة ضوئية

The discovery of a supermassive black hole hidden in a ring of cosmic dust in the center of a galaxy 47 million light-years away from us

Scientists have discovered a supermassive black hole hidden within a cloud of cosmic dust in the center of a galaxy 47 million light-years away from Earth.

The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLTI) observed a cloud of cosmic dust in the center of the “Messier 77” galaxy, which hides a supermassive black hole.

Scientists captured detailed images of this dust cloud using the astronomical interferometer at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLTI), in Chile.

Where the black hole lies within this dust cloud has been a mystery for decades, but the team used detailed images from the observatory to measure the temperature at various points within the cloud and create a map to determine where the black hole should lie.

Their findings confirm predictions made nearly 30 years ago, and give astronomers new insight into “active galactic nuclei”, some of the brightest and most mysterious objects in the universe.

Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are very energetic sources powered by supermassive black holes that are found at the center of some galaxies. The cloud surrounding the black hole is fed by it, releasing intense light that can outperform the stars in the galaxy.

These are some of the brightest and most mysterious things in the universe, located at the heart of galaxies – and the results could help establish the history of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, the “Sagittarius A* region.”

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Before the black hole devours gas and dust in an active galactic nucleus, material spins toward it, releasing massive amounts of energy in the process, often outstripping all the stars in the galaxy – as seen by telescopes on Earth.

Finding a black hole, which does not emit any light of its own, is described as a difficult process that involves solving a detailed puzzle.

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Astronomers suggest that the dust at the core of the black hole supports a decades-old model known as the unified AGN model.

“The true nature of dust clouds and their role in feeding a black hole and determining its shape when viewed from Earth have been central questions in studies of the living cell nucleus over the past three decades,” said Violetta Gams-Rosas, lead researcher on the new study. With all the questions we have, we’ve taken a huge step forward in understanding how AGN works.”

These bright phenomena were first observed in the 1950s, and astronomers have been curious about them ever since.

Using a very large telescopic interferometer, the researchers have taken a step toward understanding how they work and what they look like up close.

Astronomers are aware that there are different types of active galactic nuclei, some appearing much brighter than others, and the model states that despite their differences, they all have the same basic structure – a supermassive black hole surrounded by a thick ring of dust.

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According to the unified 30-year-old AGN model, confirmed by these observations, any difference in appearance between AGNs results from the angle at which the black hole and its thicker ring are seen from Earth.

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The type of active galactic nucleus visible depends on how much the black hole’s ring of space dust is obscured, and sometimes completely hidden, from view.

“Our results should lead to a better understanding of the inner workings of the active galactic nucleus. It can also help us to better understand the history of the Milky Way, which has a supermassive black hole at its center that may have been active in the past,” said Ms. Games Rosas.

Scientists are now looking to use the VLTI telescope to find more evidence in support of the unified AGN model by looking at a larger sample of galaxies.

Source: Daily Mail