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XMM observation of a flare around a Black Hole
Credit: Image courtesy of K. Iwasawa, G. Miniutti and A. Fabian and ESA.


Ring-Around Not-So-Rosie

What must it be like near a black hole? The intense gravity generated by the singularity at the heart of the black hole should produce all sorts of strange behavior, as predicted by Einstein's Theory of Relativity. We probably won't ever have a first-hand account, since even if we could bridge the immense distance to even the nearest black hole, it's doubtful anyone could survive the voyage. Perhaps the closest we can come is shown in the above image. This image was obtained with the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory. The upper panel shows the variation of radiation produced by iron nuclei arising near the central supermassive black hole in the active galaxy NGC 3516. This variation is similar to a model, shown in the bottom panel, in which the emission arises from a spot on the accretion disc around the central black hole, illuminated by a corotating flare located at a radius of only 3.5 - 8 Schwarzschild radii, the "size" of the black hole.


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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!


Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:11:22 EDT