Tsunamis Of Gas May Escape Supermassive Black Holes

We all know what a tsunami is. Here on earth, they typically occur when an underwater earthquake or volcanic eruption displaces ocean water leading to massive waves that can wreak havoc and cause death on land. Astrophysicists recently used computer simulations to show that supermassive black holes can create tsunami-like structures that form on massive scales in deep space.

The tsunamis created by supermassive black holes are composed of gas escaping the gravitational pull of the black hole. Researchers believe that the environment around the black hole may host the largest tsunami-like structures in the entire universe. Black holes are mysterious and scientists all around the world are working on describing how they distort the environment even multiple light-years away from them. Researchers believe that the environment around the black hole may host the largest tsunami-like structures in the entire universe.

Black holes with a mass larger than a million suns feed off material from a surrounding disc at the center of the galaxy, and the system is called an active galactic nucleus when that process is underway. Researchers believe that active galactic nuclei could have relativistic jets at the poles and a fixed cloud of material blocking the view of the central activity around the black hole.

However, plasma circulates above the disc just far enough that it won't fall into the black hole that shines extremely brightly and x-rays allowing astronomers to catalog over a million of the objects. Researchers believe that strong winds, at least driven in part by strong radiation, flow out of the central region in a phenomenon called "outflow." Researchers are attempting to understand the interactions of gas with x-rays both near the event horizon of the black hole and where the x-rays are produced.

The x-rays launch outflows that could explain various populations of denser regions around the black hole known as clouds. The clouds are ten times hotter than the surface of the sun and move at the speed of solar wind. The group has demonstrated for the first time how complicated clouds within the outflows from the central black hole are. Simulations show that just within the distance where a supermassive black hole loses its gravitational pull on the surrounding matter, the relatively cool atmosphere of the spinning disk can form waves that are similar to those on the surface of the ocean here on Earth.

However, scientists believed by the time tsunami-shaped clouds form, they are no longer influenced by the gravity of the black hole. Researchers hope to use the simulations along with work from observational astronomers to look for signs of the dynamics in deep space.