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Active black hole observed in 6 separate light reflections

Washington, August 8 (ANI): A group of physics students from the Niels Bohr Institute have observed a quasar – active black holes – whose light has been deflected and reflected in six separate images.

The group of 3rd-year astrophysics students at the Niels Bohr Institute went on a weeklong course to make observations at the Nordic Optical Telescope, NOT, on La Palma in Spain.

Four of the students wanted to do a project together and they discovered a new and exciting observation that the Norwegian astronomer Hakon Dahle had recorded, but had not yet made a further study of.

Thejs Brinckmann, one of the astrophysics students working on the project, said that they had 3 hours to observe and already after one hour we had the first spectrum.

He said that it was a new experience for us, but we could see immediately that it was a quasar.

Brinckmann asserted that a typical characteristic of a quasar is that the light has broad emission lines from gas close to the black hole.

He said that they were very excited and moved on to the other ‘candidates’ from observation and later that night we found yet another light reflection of the quasar.

The other students in the group were Mikkel Kristensen, Mikkel Lindholmer and Anders Nielsen.

The light they observed came from a quasar. Such active, supermassive black holes swallow gas from its surroundings. Due to the tremendous gravitational pull, the gases are pulled from the surrounding region into the black hole with incredible speed and gases near the black hole are heated to millions of degrees.

This extremely hot gas emits radiation, which then heats the enormous dense clouds of dust and gas that circulate at a slightly greater distance from the black hole. The heat causes the gas to light up with incredibly powerful emission of light-stronger than the light from many galaxies.

Quasars are thus extremely luminous and can be observed across the entire universe. But light does not always move in a straight line. Light is affected by the gravity of objects it encounters in its path.

During the allotted observation time over three nights, the four students took spectra of four different images that could stem from the same quasar.

Thejs Brinckmann said that they analyzed the spectra and could see that three of the spectra stemmed from the quasar.

The results have been published in the scientific journal, Astrophysical Journal. (ANI)