Astronomers are always happy when they find mysterious things that are not supposed to be in certain places. If we are to take a look at the spiral galaxy NGC 3147, we could see that they found a swirling gas disk that was quite close to a black hole. It weighs about 250 million times the mass of our Sun. They thought that the black hole was so weak, that it was not supposed to have a structure around it. It’s a mini version of the powerful disks that are everywhere in every active galaxy.
What’s so interesting about this is that the disk is placed in the intense gravitational field of the black hole, and its light is intensified and stretched by the powerful grasp of the black hole. It’s actually a demonstration of Einstein’s laws of relativity.
Hubble has material whirling around the black hole, and it moves at more than 10% of the speed of light. Astronomers have also measured the gas, and it is so entrenched in the gravitational field, that the light actually struggles to get out of there. This is why it appears to be a redder wavelength.
And because black holes are never mysterious enough, scientists used NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to find a thin disk of material violently whirling around a supermassive black hole in the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 3147. This galaxy is located about 130 million light-years away.
Why is this disk so important?
The disk is not supposed to be there if we are to take into account the present astronomical theories. However, the presence of this disk there has given us a unique opportunity to test the theory of relativity of Albert Einstein. The general relativity theory describes gravity as being the curvature of space, and it represents the relationship between time and space.
Meagan Kozlovs is a reporter for Debate Report. She’s worked and interned at Global News Toronto and CHECX. Megan is based in Toronto and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe milk shake addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast, a red wine drinker, and a voracious reader.