The mysterious gamma-Ray “heartbeat” has been detected coming from a cosmic gas cloud

Shane McGlaun - Aug 18, 2020, 7:49am CDT
The mysterious gamma-Ray “heartbeat” has been detected coming from a cosmic gas cloud

Scientists have detected a mysterious “gamma-Ray heartbeat” coming from a cosmic gas cloud. The cloud is located in the constellation Aquila. The gamma-Ray heartbeat is beating in rhythm with a neighboring black hole. This synchronization between the two indicates that the two objects are connected.

Despite beating in sequence with each other, the two objects are about 100 light-years apart. Scientists have no idea how the black hole is powering the gamma-ray heartbeat inside the gas cloud. Researchers investigating the phenomenon used a decade’s worth of NASA Fermi gamma-ray space telescope data to look at what has been dubbed a micro quasar.

The official name for the system is SS 433, and it’s about 15,000 light years away in the Milky Way. The system has a giant star about 30 times the mass of the sun and a black hole with 10 to 20 solar masses. Both objects orbit each other over a period of 13 days as the black hole sucks matter from the giant star.

The material siphoned from the star accumulates in the black hole accretion disk before falling into the black hole like water in a whirlpool. Part of that matter does not fall into the black hole. Instead, it shoots out at high speed in a pair of narrow jets in opposite directions above and below the rotating accretion disk.

The high-speed particles and incredibly strong magnetic fields in the jet the blackhole produces create x-rays and gamma rays. Scientists say the procession of the jets of material has a period of about 162 days. The gamma-ray signal shares the same period from a position located relatively far from the micro quasars.

The jets have been labeled Fermi J1913+0515. Interestingly, the micro quasar isn’t along the direction of the jets. Scientists describe the synchronization as unexpected and amazing. Researchers plan to conduct further observations.

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