Black holes love to hide themselves in radiance for something that doesn't emit light.
Black holes are some of the most bright light in the universe. The material around the black holes is what they are slurping down from their surroundings.
The blazars are among the most bright of the maelstroms of hot material. Not only do they glow with the heat of a swirling coat, but they also channel material into beams that zoom through the universe, releasing radiation that's hard to comprehend.
The mechanism for producing the high-energy light that reaches us from billions of years ago is finally understood by scientists.
This is a 40-year-old mystery that has been solved. The picture they made was clear after we had all of the pieces.
The majority of the universe's stars are built around a black hole. Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, is one of the larger objects that sit in the galactic center.
Accreting material is part of that activity. A cloud forms around a black hole and circles it like water around a drain. The material surrounding a black hole causes it to heat up and shine bright in a range of wavelength. A black hole's light comes from that.
Twin jets of material from the polar regions outside the black hole are used in blazars. These jets are thought to be material from the inner rim of the disk that is accelerated along external magnetic field lines to the poles, where it is launched at very high speeds.
The jets have to be pointed towards the viewer in order for a blazar to be classified. We are on Earth. They blaze with light across the spectrum thanks to particle acceleration.
It has been a long time since the question of how this jet accelerated the particles to such high speeds was answered. The IXPE gave scientists the key to solve the mystery after it was launched. The first space telescope to reveal the orientation of X-rays is here.
Immacolata Donnarumma of the Italian Space Agency says that the first X-ray polarization measurement of this class of sources allowed a direct comparison with the models developed from observing other frequencies of light.
Markarian 501 is a blazar located in the constellation of Hercules and has the highest energy in the sky. The data on the blazar's jet was collected by the telescope for six days.
Other observatories were measuring the light from other wavelength ranges, which used to be the only data available for Markarian.
There was a strange difference in the X-ray light. The orientation was more twisted than the lower energy wavelength. The optical light was more diffuse than the radio waves.
The direction of the polarisation was aligned with the direction of the jet. The team found that this is in line with models in which shocks in the jets produce shockwaves that increase the speed of the jet. The X-radiation is produced close to the shock. The particles lose energy farther along the jet and produce lower-energy optical and radio emissions.
According to astronomer Alan Marscher of Boston University, the magnetic field gets stronger as the shock wave crosses the region. The material makes the shock wave.
One possibility is that faster material in the jet catches up to slower moving clumps and causes crashes. Future research may be able to confirm this hypothesis.
This research marks a pretty important piece of the puzzle since blazars are among the most powerful particle accelerators in the Universe.
Future research will look at Markarian 501 and other blazars to see if they can detect the same type of polarization.
The research was published in a journal.