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IIT Guwahati and team reveal new findings on black hole binary system

BNE News Desk , June 10, 2024
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Guwahati: A multi-institutional research team, including the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, U.R. Rao Satellite Centre, ISRO, University of Mumbai, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, has studied a newly discovered black hole binary system called Swift J1727.8-1613 using data obtained from AstroSat. 

The team discovered intriguing X-ray characteristics that can potentially provide insights into the nature of black holes. Black hole binaries, where a black hole is paired with another object, provide a unique opportunity for investigation. In these binary systems, the black hole's gravity pulls material from its companion star, forming an accretion disk of gas and dust spiraling into the black hole. 

As the material in the accretion disk is pulled closer to the black hole, it heats up to extremely high temperatures, often millions of degrees, and emits X-rays. These X-rays can be detected using space-based telescopes, providing valuable information about the black hole itself.

The researchers used AstroSat, India's first dedicated space astronomy observatory, which is equipped with instruments capable of observing the universe in multi-wavelengths, including X-rays, making it ideal for studying high-energy phenomena such as black hole binaries.

They detected Quasi-periodic Oscillations (QPOs) in the X-ray light emitted by the accretion disk of Swift J1727.8-1613. These QPOs changed their frequency over seven days, shifting from 1.4 to 2.6 times per second. This change of frequency is observed in extremely high-energy X-rays, which are incredibly hot, around a billion degrees.

The QPOs can help astronomers study the inner regions of accretion disks, determine the masses and spin periods of black holes, and test Einstein's theory of general relativity, which describes gravity as a geometric property of space and time.

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