Everybody Burps… Even Black Holes


Don’t worry, according to science even black holes burp after a big meal.

For the first time ever, researchers have observed a black hole “burping” after consuming a nearby star. This gassy supermassive black hole is one of the closest to earth, and is part of a small galaxy (NGC 5195) that is currently merging with the larger “Whirlpool Galaxy.” NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory discovered arcs of x-ray emissions surrounding the black hole, and they say these arcs are the remains from two enormous blasts of material being spewed out after it “ate” a star millions of years ago.

This burp is having an effect on the whole galaxy. When the hot gases leave the black hole, they push colder hydrogen gas in front of them (like a snowplow clearing your street) in a phenomenon called feedback. This feedback helps regulate the black hole’s size, and prevents it from becoming so large that it consumes the entire galaxy! The movement of gases during feedback may also start the process of star formation farther away from the black hole.

The scientists say this burp is very important to understanding how galaxies have evolved, because black hole emission would have been very common in the early universe. It also shows that, despite their bad reputation, black holes create as well as destroy. I am just thankful that black hole burps don’t smell.

Want to learn more? Visit http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/06/462138463/scientists-spot-burping-black-hole-in-nearby-galaxy

Jan 7, 2016

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