The Hubble and Chandra space telescopes observed one newer "burp" along with the remnants of another one that occurred 100,000 years prior to it, the BBC reported.
Scientists have combined images of the J1354 galaxy, which is located 800 million light-years away. We know a lot of examples of black holes with single burps emanating out, but we discovered a galaxy with a supermassive black hole that has not one but two burps. "Fortunately, we happened to observe this galaxy in a moment where we could clearly see both events".
Details of Comerford and her team's study were published in the The Astrophysical Journal and presented January 11 at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C.
"We are seeing this object feast, burp, and nap, and then feast and burp once again, which theory had predicted", said Julie Comerford, leader of the study from the University of Colorado Boulder.
For comparison, one light-year is approximately 6 trillion miles.
In order to see the two events, astronomers used data from ground-based telescopes as well as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. The Apache Point facility is owned by the Astrophysical Research Consortium, a group of 10 US research institutions that includes CU Boulder.
Most galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their centres, which consumes anything that gets too close.
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According to the theory, there's a period in which black holes would "swallow" the matter, then burp clouds of high-energy particles and then hibernate for a while, according to Comerford.
A contributing factor to the gassy galaxy: a companion galaxy linked to J1354 by streams of stars and gas from a collision between the two of them.
Like new parents eagerly peering at their infant through a baby monitor, University of Colorado scientists have been ogling a supermassive black hole performing astronomical gastronomical feats of eating, belching and taking a snooze.
The team said the cloud of ejected gas had already spread 30,000 light years from the black hole.
"This galaxy really caught us off guard", said Rebecca Nevin, a study co-author and doctoral student at CU Boulder. Researchers said that they could see this object having meal, nap and belch and repeating these activities. Astronomers saw gas jets dubbed "Fermi bubbles" that shine in the gamma-ray and X-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Well, nearly nothing. As it turns out, supermassive black holes aren't always thorough when gobbling up star systems and solar debris.