Artist's impression of a black hole accretion disc.
Data from ESA’s Integral high-energy observatory have helped shed light on the workings of a mysterious black hole found spitting out ‘bullets’ of plasma while rotating through space.
The black hole is part of a binary system known as V404 Cygni and is sucking in material from a companion star. It is located in our Milky Way, some 8000 light-years away from Earth, and was first identified in 1989, when it caused a huge outburst of high-energy radiation and material.
After 26 years of dormancy, it woke up again in 2015, becoming for a short period of time the brightest object in the sky observable in high-energy X-rays. Based on data collected during this outburst, scientists think that the inner part of the accretion disc is tilted with respect to the rest of the system, most likely due to the spin of the black hole being inclined with respect to the orbit of the companion star.
An animation of the precessing jets and accretion flow in V404 Cygni is available here.
More information: Scientists get to the bottom of a ‘spitting’ black hole