Astronomy, Black Holes

What Is A Shooting Black Hole?

shooting black hole

A shooting black hole is a commonly used term for the scientific event known as a ‘black hole flare’. A black hole flare (or shooting black hole) is when a super massive black hole shoots or erupts beams of X-Ray light. This was observed in 2014, when NASA saw an object coming out of a black hole for the first time ever.

How A Shooting Black Hole Occurs

The black hole’s corona (seen as a purple hue in the below diagram) is responsible for the flare. As the corona shifts, it builds up an immense amount of static energy which causes it to become brighter and eventually release an x-ray emission that can be seen by telescopes on Earth.

As the corona shifts, we see the effect of relativistic boosting. This means that the x-ray light becomes brightened on the side in which the shift has occurred – that is facing towards us. If the shift happened on a curve facing away from us, it would appear as a dimmer object.

shooting black hole 1
This diagram shows how a shifting feature, called a corona, can create a flare of X-rays around a black hole. The corona (feature represented in purplish colors) gathers inward (left), becoming brighter, before shooting away from the black hole (middle and right). Astronomers don’t know why the coronas shift, but they have learned that this process leads to a brightening of X-ray light that can be observed by telescopes.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Markarian 335, Observed Shooting Black Hole

NASA located an unusual signal in 2014 when the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR picked up an x-ray flare from a black hole in a distant galaxy. This was the first time the event was recorded, and this allowed for astronomers to posit that a shifting corona could lead to a shooting black hole.

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Lauren studies astronomy and physics at NYU.