Black holes are some of the most powerful and mysterious objects in the known universe. Scientists have lots of theories on black holes and are always searching for new examples to test those theories on. Hubble has found a new black hole that has a thin disk of matter that is whirling around the supermassive black hole at the heart of a spiral galaxy called NGC 3147 at 10% of the speed of light.
The galaxy in question is 130 million light-years away. Scientists are so interested in the black hole because it has a disk that shouldn’t be there based on current astronomical theories. The presence of a disk of material so close to the black hole does provide the team with a chance to test the theory of relativity.
Scientist Marco Chiaberge says that scientists have never seen the effects of both general and special relativity in visible light with so much clarity. Another scientist on the team says that since the disk is very close to the black hole, it allows them a glimpse at how the velocities and intensity of gravitational pull are affecting how the photons of light look.
The team says that black holes like the one in NGC 3147 are malnourished because there isn’t enough gravitationally captured material to feed them. The thin haze of infalling material puffs up like a donut rather than flattening into a disk.
Scientists are puzzled as to why the thin disk is circling the starving black hole. The team says that the type of disc they are seeing is a scaled-down quasar noting that its the same type of disk they would see in objects that are 1,000 or even 100,000 times more luminous. The observations have shown that current models for gas dynamics in very faint, active galaxies have failed.