Home » Solving the Mystery: How a Supermassive Black Hole Accelerates Jet Particles Near the Speed ​​of Light | TechNews

Solving the Mystery: How a Supermassive Black Hole Accelerates Jet Particles Near the Speed ​​of Light | TechNews

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Solving the Mystery: How a Supermassive Black Hole Accelerates Jet Particles Near the Speed ​​of Light | TechNews

There is a kind of extremely luminous object in the universe called a blazar, which is characterized by a powerful stream of high-speed particles ejected from a supermassive black hole directed at the Earth. For decades, scientists have wondered how these particles can be accelerated to ultra-high energies. Now a new study solves the mystery that the best explanation for particle acceleration comes from jet shock waves.

A blazar is a type of active galaxy, also known as an active galactic nucleus (AGN). Its true appearance is a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy, which can produce two powerful jets perpendicular to the accretion disk and in opposite directions, and one of them The direction of the stock points directly to the earth. Located 456 million light-years away, the supermassive black hole known as Markarian 501 has a jet pointed right at Earth. It blasts charged particles into space at nearly the speed of light. The latter emits powerful X-rays called synchrotron radiation in the process. is a good subject of observation.

Astronomers have wondered for 40 years what mechanism causes particles to be accelerated to nearly the speed of light and hurtled away from the jets of supermassive black holes.

The Imaging X-Ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE), launched by NASA last year, can reveal the magnetic field environment of blazars, which in turn provides clues about accelerated jet particles. After observing the Markarian 501 black hole, researchers finally obtained evidence showed that “shock waves” were the most likely mechanism for accelerating particles to incredible speeds.

There are two common ways to generate shock waves in jets. The first one is related to environmental reasons: the pressure and density changes of the external medium cause shock waves; A shock wave will be generated.

If the shock wave theory is correct, scientists predict that the polarization angle will rotate at X-ray wavelengths, and follow-up IXPE observations have the opportunity to detect this rotation, further supporting the conclusion.

The new paper was published in the journal Nature.

(First image source: University of Washington)

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