Black hole spotted by Indian scientists

Black hole spotted by Indian scientists

An Indian team of scientists have managed to spot a black hole, as they tried to make sense of a fresh set of observations related to the identification of a new gravity wave.

Black holes are what massive stars in their dying phase become when they turn too heavy and dense for even light — the fastest runner in the universe — to escape their gravitational pull. The scientists were studying a newly discovered cosmic explosion that took place several billion light years away in the constellation Ursa Major.

Initially, scientists thought the explosion was related to the gravity wave that had preceeded it by 21 hours, but observations made by the Indian space observatory Astrosat and subsequent analysis by Indian researchers ruled out that possibility.

“We found that it was a gamma ray burst, which signifies the creation of a black hole,” Varun Bhalerao from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, who is the lead author of the study, told DH. Gamma ray bursts are extremely energetic explosions seen in distant galaxies.

Last week, an international research team had announced the third detection of gravitational waves. Gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time, which were first predicted by Albert Einstein more than a century ago. While the scientific announcement was made only last week, the wave was first observed on January 4.

The gamma ray burst, which Astrosat sensed, came 21 hours later (on January 5) in the same part of the sky. The close proximity of the two events — the gravity wave and the gamma ray burst — had led to a misunderstanding among researchers till the Indian team cleared the air. “We studied the source (GRB 170105A) with radio, optical and X-ray telescopes for few days till it faded away into oblivion. Based on its behaviour, we concluded that this event signalled the birth of a new black hole when a massive star imploded in a galaxy several billion light years away,” said astrophysicist Dipankar Bhattacharaya, from the Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune.

Astrosat is India’s first dedicated space probe, launched in September 2015 by the ISRO. Having been in the sky for almost two years, the probe is producing significant results.

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