Researchers at the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory have discovered huge rings around a black hole that is part of a binary system called V404 Cygni. This binary system’s black hole, located about 7,800 light-years away from Earth, is actively pulling material away from a companion star, which has about half the mass of the Sun, into a disk around the invisible object. Read more for a video and additional information.
What makes these rings significant? They provide astronomers with insight about not only about the black hole’s behavior, but also the landscape between V404 Cygni and Earth. One example would be studying the diameter of the rings in X-rays to reveal the distances to the intervening dust clouds the light ricocheted off. If the cloud is discovered to be closer to Earth, the ring appears larger and vice versa.
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The team determined that the dust most likely contains mixtures of graphite and silicate grains. In addition, by analyzing the inner rings with Chandra, they found that the densities of the dust clouds changes are not uniform in all directions. Previous studies have assumed that they did not,” said NASA.