Scientists captured the super-massive black hole while burping

Bright light from gas the black hole is accreting. Pic NASA, ESA and J. Comerford

According to the theory, there's a period in which black holes would "swallow" the matter, then burp clouds of high-energy particles and then hibernate for a while, according to Comerford. The Galaxy is known as J1354, which is around 900 million light years away from Earth.

Julie Comerford, from the University of Colorado, said: "Black holes are voracious eaters, but it turns out they don't have very good table manners".

"Our galaxy's supermassive black hole is now napping after a big meal, just like J1354's black hole has in the past". In fact, we already have well documented instances of such plumes of gas being ejected from black holes, but the duality of this fresh discovery is what makes it special.

The team of researchers, that published a journal entry on the results, declared they believe the black hole could have burped twice thanks to a collision between two galaxies.

The team was able to detect a "remnant emission" south of the centre of the galaxy which indicated there had been a black hole feasting event, while another loop of gas north of the galaxy signalled a more recent burp. For comparison, one light-year is roughly six trillion miles. One was Hubble Space Telescope, and another one was Chandra X-ray Observatory. The Apache Point facility is owned by the Astrophysical Research Consortium, a group of 10 USA research institutions that includes CU Boulder.

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Researchers noticed that a black hole had produced two "burping" events.

In a unique observation, astronomers have witnessed a supermassive black hole in a distant galaxy snacking on gas and then burping it up - twice.

The explanation for these gas-feeding events lies in a companion galaxy, which had previously collided with J1354.

Supermassive black holes have masses greater than one million suns combined and would fit inside a ball with a diameter about the size of the solar system.

"This galaxy really caught us off guard", said study author and University of Colorado Boulder doctoral student Rebecca Nevin. "This new burp is actually moving like a shock wave - it's coming out very fast, and so it's kind of like a sonic boom of a burp, whereas the gas to the south shows us an older burp that happens 100,000 years earlier before that newer burp". Those two burps are evidence of black hole activity, which has been suggested for a long time. Astronomers saw gas jets dubbed "Fermi bubbles" that shine in the gamma-ray and X-ray portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

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