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科学家们对银河系超大质量黑洞突然变亮感到困惑

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2019年08月14日

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Scientists baffled by sudden brightness of our galaxy's supermassive black hole

科学家们对银河系超大质量黑洞突然变亮感到困惑

You never want to wonder what's eating a black hole.

你永远不会想知道是什么在吞噬黑洞。

In fact, moodiness is the last thing you want from a light-bending, time-sucking void.

事实上,在一个光线弯曲、耗费时间的空间里,喜怒无常是你最不想要的。

But something seems to have gotten Sagittarius A* all fired up.

但似乎有什么东西让射手座兴奋不已。

And, since it's the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, it's a little hard to ignore.

而且,由于它是银河系中心的超大质量黑洞,所以很难忽略它。

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Gas and dust typically make up the accretion disk surrounding a black hole. (Photo: HelloRF Zcool/Shutterstock)

Their research, revealed in Cornell University’s arXiv, suggests Sagittarius A* is flashing 75 times brighter than it has since monitoring began more than 20 years ago.

他们在康奈尔大学的arXiv上发表的研究表明,人马座A*的亮度是20多年前开始监测以来的75倍。

Back in May, astronomer Tuan Do from the University of California just happened to be peering at the heart of the galaxy from Hawaii's Keck Observatory, according to New Scientist.

据《新科学家》杂志报道,早在今年5月,加州大学的天文学家Tuan Do就在夏威夷凯克天文台观测到银河系的中心。

He spotted something particularly bright. At first, Do assumed it was a star. Then he realized he was being flashed by the Milky Way's supermassive black-hole-in-residence.

他发现了特别明亮的东西。起初,Do认为它是一颗恒星。然后他意识到自己正在被银河系的超大质量黑洞照亮。

"It was strange because I had never seen the black hole that bright before," Do tells New Scientist.

“这很奇怪,因为我以前从未见过这么明亮的黑洞,”Do告诉《新科学家》杂志。

And how, you may ask, does something called a black hole twinkle? All that frantic hoovering of dust and gas generates a lot of heat and under a telescope's ultraviolet eye, it appears to flicker. Think of it as a little stardust left around the mouth — or in this case, the accretion disk — of a messy eater.

你可能会问,黑洞是如何闪烁的?所有这些疯狂的灰尘和气体的滴答声产生了大量的热量,在望远镜的紫外线下,它似乎在闪烁。你可以把它想象成一个脏兮兮的吃东西的人嘴巴周围留下的一点星尘——或者在这个例子中,是吸积盘。

Black holes have no time for napkins.

黑洞没有时间用餐巾纸。

The unprecedented flash from Sagittarius A*, however, suggests the cosmic carnivore may have gobbled up a very spicy celestial meatball.

然而,人马座A*发出的这一前所未有的闪光表明,这种宇宙食肉动物可能吞下了一颗非常辛辣的天体肉丸。

"Maybe more gas is falling into the black hole and that leads to higher amounts of accretion, which leads to it being brighter," Do adds in New Scientist.

Do在《新科学家》杂志上补充道:“也许有更多的气体进入黑洞,这就导致了更多的吸积,从而使黑洞变得更亮。”

There's also a chance the black hole finally got around to eating a gaseous object identified as G2, which was found to be approaching Sagittarius A* in 2014.

还有一种可能性是,黑洞最终会吃掉一个被确定为G2的气态物体,该物体在2014年被发现正在接近人马座A *。

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Hawaii's Keck Observatory features twin telescopes that are sensitive to radio and ultraviolet wavelengths. (Photo: Abbie Warnock-Matthews/Shutterstock)

But frankly, scientists don't understand why our black hole has suddenly grown so bright. Do and his team are hoping information from other telescopes can help solve the mystery.

但是坦白地说,科学家们不明白为什么我们的黑洞突然变得如此明亮。Do和他的团队希望来自其他望远镜的信息能帮助解开这个谜团。

One thing we do know is there's no chance Sagittarius A* is on the move. These chasms in space and time don't wander the galaxy looking for snacks. In fact, Sagittarius A* has been sitting at the same buffet table in the heart of the galaxy for billions of years.

有一件事我们是知道的,那就是射手座是不会到处乱跑的。这些空间和时间上的裂缝不会在星系中游荡寻找零食。事实上,人马座A*已经在银河系中心的同一张餐桌上坐了几十亿年了。

But, like anyone who eats non-stop while being parked on their posteriors, black holes will gain mass  — and expand in diameter.

但是,就像任何一个人把车停下来不停地吃东西一样,黑洞会增加质量,并扩大直径。

Most estimates peg the diameter of Sagittarius A* at around 14 million miles wide, with a mass of 3.6 million suns. That qualifies it, in astronomical terms, as supermassive — but not nearly enough for a membership card to the ultramassiveblack hole club.

大多数人估计人马座A*的直径约为1400万英里宽,质量为360万个太阳。从天文学的角度来看,这足以证明它的质量是超大型的,但对于一张超级黑洞俱乐部的会员卡来说,这还远远不够。

That's for the likes of the downright beastly Holm 15A*.

这是为那些彻头彻尾的野蛮的霍尔姆15A*之类的人准备的。

In any case, with Sagittarius A* some 25,640 light-years from Earth, we're not even close to being folded into its expanding girth.

无论如何,人马座A*距离地球25640光年,我们离它膨胀的周长还差得远呢。

Unless, of course, you consider that a black hole not only doesn't care for napkins, but also the rules of time and space.

当然,除非你认为黑洞不仅不喜欢餐巾纸,而且也不喜欢时间和空间的规则。

We simply don't know what these cosmic enigmas are capable of. Perhaps, as renowned astrophysicist Michio Kaku once suggested, a black hole could literally tear the universe a new one.

我们根本不知道这些宇宙之谜能做什么。或许,正如著名天体物理学家贺来道雄曾经提出的那样,黑洞确实可以撕裂宇宙,形成一个新的黑洞。

"If space is a fabric, then of course fabrics can have ripples, which we have now seen directly. But fabrics can also rip. Then the question is, what happens when the fabric of space and time is ripped by a black hole?" he told the Economic Times earlier this year.

“如果空间是一种面料,那么面料当然会有褶皱,我们现在已经直接看到了。但织物也会撕裂。那么问题是,当空间和时间的结构被黑洞撕裂时会发生什么?”

Let's just hope it was a spicy meatball.

希望是辣肉丸子。


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