Just as we puny humans like our beats and bass, the Universe as a whole likes a good thump, too. A supermassive black hole in the
A supermassive black hole in the centre of a clump of galaxies known as the Perseus Cluster has long been known as a source of a lot of heat and light. But the thing also acts as the biggest subwoofer in nature.
Yes, I know that sound can’t travel in a vacuum, but the gas and plasma surrounding the black hole act as a medium. Astronomers have measured the sound waves coming from it, concluding that the note is a B-flat, some million billion times deeper than the range of human hearing. This deep, deep, DEEP note allows ripples of soundwaves to travel hundreds of thousands of light years away from its source. What’s more is that scientists say that this black hole has been holding this note for 2.5 million years.
All right, cool. But so what? NASA explains:
For years astronomers have tried to understand why there is so much hot gas in galaxy clusters and so little cool gas. Hot gas glowing with X-rays ought to cool because X-rays carry away some of the gas’ energy. Dense gas near the cluster’s center where X-ray emission is brightest should cool the fastest. As the gas cools, say researchers, the pressure should drop, causing gas from further out to sink toward the center. Trillions of stars ought to be forming in these gaseous flows.
Yet scant evidence has been found for flows of cool gas or for star formation. This forced astronomers to invent several different ways to explain how gas contained in clusters remained hot. None of them were satisfactory.
“Black hole sound waves, however, might do the trick.”
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