Washington : A team of astronomers has observed the feeding habits of a “supermassive” black hole for the first time.
Astronomers from Cardiff University detected billowy clouds of cold, clumpy gas streaming towards a supermassive black hole at speeds of up to 800,000 miles per hour and feeding into its bottomless well.
The observation, which was aided by the work of Dr Timothy Davis, marks the first direct evidence to support the theory that black holes feed on clouds of cold gas.
Using one of the most powerful telescopes in the world, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array or ALMA, the team found that the feeding process was “chaotic” and “clumpy”, as opposed to a smooth, simple and clean process that was previously hypothesized.
Dr Davis said: “It was magical being able to see evidence of these clouds accreting onto the supermassive black hole. At that very moment, nature gave us a clear view of this complicated process, allowing us to understand supermassive black holes in a way that has never been possible before.”
He added, “The data has provided us with a snapshot of what is happening around the black hole at one precise time, so it’s possible that the black hole has an ever bigger appetite and is devouring even more of these cold clouds of gas surrounding it.”
The study is published in the journal Nature. (ANI)