Detection of giant astronomical flare may assist open door to origin of the Universe

Vijay Mohan
Today News Online Service
Chandigarh, February 13

Indian Astronomers have reported one of the strongest flares from a feeding super-massive black hole, also known as blazar.

Analysis of the flare from this Blazar—one of the oldest astronomical objects—can help trace the mass of the black hole and the source of this emission, thereby providing a lead into the mysteries of the Universe, and will help trace events at different stages of its evolution.

Blazars in the heart of distant galaxies receive a lot of attention from the astronomical community because of their complicated emission mechanism. They emit jets of charged particles travelling nearly at the speed of light, and are one of the most luminous and energetic objects in the Universe.

A team of astronomers led by Dr Alok Chandra Gupta from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nanital, detected an exceptionally high flare from a blazar called BL Lacertae on January 16, 2021.

They had been following this Blazar since October 2020 as part of an international observational campaign with the help of the Sampurnanand Telescope and the 1.3-meter Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope located in Nainital.

BL Lacertae is 10 million light years away from Earth and is among the 50 most prominent blazars, that can be observed with the help of a relatively small telescope. It was among the four blazars that was predicted to be experiencing flares by the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT), an international consortium of astronomers. 

Data collected from the observed flare will help in calculating the black hole mass, size of emission region and mechanism of the emission from one of the oldest astronomical objects known, hence opening a door into the origin and evolution of the Universe, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Science and Technology on Saturday.

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