2016, Japan launched a revolutionary black-hole-monitoring satellite but right
after the successful launch, they lost its control under unknown situations.
Now, we can finally see what Hitomi saw just before it went offline. When
Hitomi went offline, scientists were successful receiving some data from
Hitomi, which was published a few days ago in a newspaper in Nature.
Hitomi’s last observations (Image Credit: Hitomi Collaboration/JAXA, NASA, ESA, SRON, CSA)
Hitomi’s last observations were of the Perseus Cluster, a giant galaxy cluster about 240 million light years away from having a supermassive black hole at its center. Hitomi was able to capture this incredible view of the galaxy (shown above), plus to an extent its x-ray activity. Researchers were expecting to detect teeming activity at the center of the cluster, but Hitomi’s last x-ray observations showed very little action.
“The intracluster gas is fainter than previously expected. We were expecting the level to be higher because of the activity at the central galaxy.”
But this result is not just an amazing shelter of calm in a stormy galaxy. It also gives us an idea about what role black holes play in how galaxies do—or don’t—form.
“The shock is that it turns out, the energy being emitted from the black hole is being efficiently absorbed,” co-author Brian McNamara of the Waterloo University told Gizmodo. “This hot gas that we’re watching at with Hitomi is the stuff of the future; it’s the gas out of which galaxies are made of. There is far more of this hot gas than there are stars in the galaxy, or there is more stuff that was not made into galaxies than that was.”
“What it indicates is that black holes very efficiently control the growth rate of galaxies.”
“The measurements on the Perseus Cluster indicated the potential of the Hitomi x-ray microcalorimeter to transform our knowledge of the velocities of hot gas throughout the Cosmos.”
In 2005, a microcalorimeter really made it into space but was wrecked by a coolant leak. It wasn’t until 2016 with Hitomi that a microcalorimeter was successfully launched long enough to take readings—only to be lost along with the whole satellite shortly after.
Image Explanation: This image illustrates how supermassive black holes at the
center of galaxy clusters could heat intergalactic gas, preventing it from
cooling and forming stars. The black hole inflates bubbles (dark areas) of
ultrahot, ionized gas, called plasma. The bubbles, which reach tens of
thousands of light-years into space, drag gas (blue clouds) from the cluster
center, which explains the long streaks of gas, or filaments, seen in optical
images. In the outer regions, the bubbles cause turbulence, which heats the
gas. The hot gas emits bright X-rays detected by X-ray satellites.
National Accelerator Laboratory