Massive V404 Cygni Black Hole Wakes Up And Swallows A Star

black hole

A black hole has woken up… and it’s hungry.

The European Space Agency says V404 Cygni, a binary system of a black hole and a star, has gone from practically invisible to one of the brightest objects in the high-energy sky (space as seen with instruments that detect gamma rays and X-rays).

The reason for this sudden burst of energy is a cosmic act of murder, as the suddenly highly active black hole is swallowing its celestial neighbor.

ESA released an artist’s rendering of the black hole “feasting on matter from its companion star.”

(Story continues after image.)

The black hole has never been dormant. However, ESA scientists believe that material from the star has been slowly building up around it, forming a disc. As the disc heats up, it shines brightly at optical, ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths and then spirals into the hole, the space agency explained in the news release.

As the image shows, not all the disc material gets sucked inside; some is ejected in the particle jets shooting out from either side of the black hole.

The reason for the sudden highly visible activity is that it’s reached a “tipping point that dramatically changes the black hole’s feeding routine for a short period.”

The scientists believe that it reaches this point every two to three decades.

The current “feeding routine” is being watched by astronomers around the world using telescopes here on earth and observatories in space, in particular the ESA’s Integral, a satellite launched in 2002 to observe gamma rays.

The behavior of this source is extraordinary at the moment, with repeated bright flashes of light on time scales shorter than an hour, something rarely seen in other black hole systems,” Erik —> Read More