Way up in the group Cancer there’s a 14th scale speck of light you can claim in a 10-inch or better telescope. If you saw it, you might sniff at amazing so insignificant, yet it represents the final farewell of chewed up stars as their leftovers whirl down the throat of an 18 billion solar mass black hole, one of the most massive known in the space.
Astronomers recognize the object as OJ 287, a quasar that lies 3.5 billion light years from Earth. Quasars or quasi-stellar substance light up the centers of a lot of remote galaxies. If we could pull up for a closer look, we’d see a brilliant, compressed accretion disk composed of heated star-stuff spinning about the central black hole at great speeds.
As matter gets sucked down the hole, jets of hot plasma and energetic light shoot out at right angles to the disk. And if we’re so privileged that one of those jet happens to point directly at us, we call the quasar a “blazar”. Variability of the light stream from the heart of a blazar is so constant, the object almost flickers.
A new observational campaign involving more than 2 dozen optical telescopes and NASA’s space based SWIFT X-ray telescope allowable a team of astronomers to measure very precisely the rotational rate the black hole powering OJ 287 at one 3rd the maximum spin rate — about 56,000 miles per second (90,000 kps) — allowed in General Relativity A careful analysis of these comments show that OJ 287 has shaped close-to-periodic optical outbursts at interval of approximately 12 years dating back to around 1891. A close examination of newer data sets reveals the attendance of double-peaks in these outbursts.
o explain the blazar’s performance, Prof. Mauri Valtonen of the University of Turku (Finland) and colleagues developed a model that beautifully explain the data if the quasar OJ 287 harbors not one buy two unequal mass black holes — an 18 billion mass one orbit by a smaller black hole.
OJ 287 is able to be seen due to the streaming of matter present in the accumulation disk onto the main black hole. The smaller black hole passes through the larger’s the accretion disk throughout its orbit, causing the disk material to briefly heat up to extremely high temperatures. This heated material flows out from both sides of the accumulation disk and radiates strongly for weeks, causing the double peak in brightness.
The orbit of the lesser black hole also precesses similar to how Mercury’s orbit precesses. This change when and where the lesser black hole passes through the accretion disk. After cautiously observing eight outburst of the black hole, the team was able to decide not only the black holes’ masses but also the precession rate of the orbit. Based on Valtonen’s model, the team predict a flare in late November 2015, and it happen right on schedule.The timing of this brilliant outburst allowed Valtonen and his co-workers to straight measure the rotation rate of the additional massive black hole to be nearly 1/3 the speed of light. I’ve checked approximately and as far as I can tell, this would make it the best spinning object we know of in the space. Getting dizzy yet?