Astronomers at Durham University in the UK have discovered that the black hole in the center of the galaxy RE J1034 + 396 continues to “beat” a decade after the first observation, which is still a mystery to scientists. This was reported in an article published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The phenomenon, called the “heartbeat”, was first recorded in 2007 at a supermassive black hole 600 million light-years distant from the Earth. X-ray pulses were recorded every hour, until in 2011, satellite observations were blocked by the Sun. However, in 2018, the XMM-Newton Space Observatory was again able to observe RE J1034 + 396 and, to the surprise of researchers, recorded a heartbeat again.
This phenomenon, also called quasiperiodic oscillations, occurs when material falling on a black hole enters the accretion disk, and a huge amount of energy is released from a relatively small area of space. If the process repeats, then it is recorded as a heartbeat, but this happens very rarely. The interval between pulses makes it possible to judge the size of the black hole and the structure of the substance near the event horizon.
In addition to RE J1034 + 396, a heartbeat is observed in a black hole of stellar mass in the Milky Way, around which a satellite star rotates.