A black hole that was in deep slumber has woken up after 26 years and immediately started gobbling up its nearby star, said NASA scientist. The low mass black hole is located 8,000 light years away in a binary system called V404 Cygni which lies in the constellation Cygnus.
Using a fleet of orbiting telescopes including, NASA’s Swift Satellite, Japanese Maxi Telescope and ESA’s Integral telescope, astronomers observed very strong X- rays and gamma rays produced by the black hole after it woke up.
Scientists say soon after the black hole became active it started consuming the star that was orbiting around it. The dying star is half the mass of our Sun.
V404 Cygni was first observed during a large nova explosion back in 1938. After that, the binary system didn’t show any activity until 1989 when the system produced an eruption which was observed by the Japanese X-ray satellite Ginga and high-energy instruments on board the Mir space station.
Now, the black hole again showed some activity on 15 June 2015 which was observed by NASA’s Swift satellite when sudden burst of gamma rays caused massive lightning in the sky.
Dr Erik Kuulkers of ESA believes it to be once in a lifetime opportunity to see a black hole emitting X-rays that lights up the sky for nearly an hour and it is even brighter than the Crab Nebula.
He further added that earlier scientists did not have high-quality telescopes to observe such phenomenon closely, however, now they have fleet of highly advance telescopes. All the scientists are eagerly observing the death of the star and activity of the black hole to learn more about these highly concentrated celestial bodies and power that drives such massive and powerful outbursts.
The observation will be made public in coming weeks so that other astronomers around the globe can learn about the unique object, said Dr Peter Kretschmar of ESA, a manager for the Integral mission.