One of the most mystifying aspects of a black hole is that we’ve been under the assumption that nothing can escape their gravitational pull. When each subject has enough gravity to bend light and time, it’s not surprising that we’ve never seen anything come FROM one of these massive vacuums before, but now we have. Thanks to NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array scientists have captured what appears to the corona of a black hole being ejected into space! This is the first time we’ve ever seen a black hole display this type of behavior, and immediately after the ejection, a large burst of x-ray energy was also expelled. The inescapable now has an escape.
Markarian 335 is roughly 324-335 million light-years away from Earth, far enough away that we don’t have to worry about it for the time being at least. The principal investigator for the project at Saint Mary’s University Luigi Gallo had this to say about the buildup to the discovery:
“Something very strange happened in 2007 when Mrk 335 faded by a factor of 30. What we have found is that it continues to erupt in flares but has not reached the brightness levels and stability seen before.”
Basically, this black hole is erupting massive amounts of its own energy that it’s never going to get back. Apparently, the black hole’s corona was moving at around 20% the speed of light, and when it began traveling away from its dark prison an effect known as relativistic Doppler boosting came into play before the x-ray waves and that’s how we can tell what was actually happening. The only problem is that we still have no way of knowing what could have caused the corona to eject the way it did, though at least now we know there is a way to escape certain death from a black hole’s pull.