While analyzing the X-rays from the supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy 800 million light-years away, scientists at Stanford University noticed a peculiar pattern. It appears that the black hole is ejecting these rays into the universe surrounding it.
The observer, Dan Wilkins, observed several exciting but standard brilliant X-ray flares. When more X-ray flashes appeared, they were later, smaller, and had different “colors” than the intense flares, which caught the telescopes by surprise.
Such a phenomenon had previously been theorized to exist and is explained by the fact that, just as observed by scientists, dazzling flares of X-ray emissions are produced as gas sinks into a supermassive black hole.
Then, after the flares died down, brief X-ray bursts were seen. These lights were the reflection of flares that came from the disc’s farthest edge and were bent around the black hole by its strong gravitational field. Then, as the gas descended toward the black hole, the fireworks echoed off of it.
The idea contends that these intense echoes are consistent with X-rays reflected from behind the black hole, even though even a basic understanding of black holes makes it clear that this is an odd place for light to originate from.
Wilkins, a research scientist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, said that since no light enters a black hole, it should be impossible for us to detect anything behind the black hole.”
“But what allows for this observation is another peculiar feature of the black hole. Wilkins continued, “That black hole is distorting space, bending light, and twisting magnetic fields around itself, which is why we can see that.
A report detailing the peculiar discovery was published on July 28, 2022, in Nature (linked below). It is the first direct observation of light emanating directly from behind a black hole, a scenario predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity but never before confirmed.
SLAC Professor of particle physics and astrophysicist Roger Blandford is a co-author of the study and the Luke Blossom Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford Professor of physics, and Stanford Professor of an astrophysicist. “Fifty years ago, when astrophysicists started speculating about how the magnetic field might behave close to a black hole, they had no idea that one day we might have the techniques to observe this directly and see Ein