Supermassive black holes could be debunked by radio pulsars


Supermassive black holes are the gaping mouths of galaxies, but despite their size in the millions to billions of suns, very little is known about these beasts.

The maybe a way to learn more about the mergers between the most gargantuan black holes in the universe – through emissions from another type of object. While there is no definitive proof of the gravitational waves they are believed to release when they merge, radio pulsars (the super-compact and magnetized dead star cores which are constantly spinning and “pulsing” with radio waves) could provide insight into what happens when monsters collide.

The supermassive black hole mergers that occur when galaxies collide with each other can take millions of years. When black holes move dangerously close to each other, they become a binary system that sends gravitational waves otherwise known as ripples in space-time. Radio pulsars could help find these mysterious gravitational waves.

Researchers Boris Goncharov and Ryan Shannon of the ARC Center of Excellence for the Discovery of Gravitational Waves (OzGrav) recently conducted a study, published in Letters from the astrophysical journal, on using pulsar radio wave synchronization to find evidence of gravitational waves from supermassive black holes.

“As galaxies merge, gravity and various dynamic interactions should slowly move pairs of supermassive black holes together,” Goncharov told SYFY WIRE. “Once the black holes are close enough to each other, they will travel on a collision course due to the emission of gravitational waves.”

It has already been hypothesized that the noise surrounding pulsar radio wave observations could be of the same level as gravitational wave signals from the fusion of supermassive black holes. If the noise is really coming from such mergers, it could tell us things that can only be guessed at this time. Not only would that say more about the interactions between black holes that are about to collide, but maybe also the weight of black holes, how they have evolved since the beginning of time, and what, the if any, dark matter (another conundrum) had to do with it.

Whether dark matter is involved in black holes will likely remain unknown until there is a way to detect dark matter. Also invisible is what affects the movement and interaction of galaxies, as far as galactic mergers are concerned, and it may even explain how these mergers evolve and even feed off the energy that black holes give off when they do. turn. There have been more controversial ideas, with one claiming that black holes are in fact massive clumps of dark matter that have accumulated. We can’t see them anyway.

When the radio waves from the pulsars reach Earth, they can tell us how their speed is influenced by the gravitational waves that get in the way.

“The delays and advances in radio wave arrival times reflect how gravitational waves change their distance between us and the radio pulsars as the gravitational waves pass,” Goncharov explains. “These periodic changes of distance represent the gravitational waves which pass and carry the imprints of the binary rotations of the black holes; each revolution brings binaries closer together.

This noise itself is questionable. It may be from the pulsars themselves, but further investigation will eventually demystify its origins. Are gravitational waves really the noise (or at least some of the noise) that causes pulsar radio waves to speed up or slow their path towards us? Keeping an eye on a pulsar is already telling scientists whether or not there is noise to start with, and potentially its properties, but Hellings-Downs spatial correlations would provide a way to measure observations of radio wave arrival times. compared to what they are supposed to be. .

Unfortunately, there is not yet enough evidence to Hellings-Downs correlations. When there are any, they will be able to tell observers how long radio pulses from a given region of space should be delayed, with delays being the result of gravitational wave interference. Other noises which could be confused with the real signal coming from the binary gravitational waves of the black holes will be automatically excluded. For now, Goncharov and others involved in the International Pulsar Timing Array are looking for these elusive signals.

“We cannot confirm or rule out the presence of Hellings-Downs correlations in the data, but we can confidently rule out other spatial correlations that may have been caused by particular noise sources,” he says. “We are trying to improve our prospects for detecting gravitational waves from supermassive binary black holes.”

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