In addition, the scientists determined that the innermost region of the relativistic jet is pierced by a helical magnetic field, as predicted by the models.
Astronomers have found new evidence that a binary system of supermassive black holes is located at the core of the OJ 287 blazar. This was achieved with the help of the Radioastron project and ground-based ultra-long baseline interferometers.
Importance of relativistic jets for science
One of the most important trends in modern astrophysics is the study of the nature and evolution of relativistic jets (jets) generated by the activity of supermassive black holes.
Scientists are interested in which mechanisms (Blandford-Znajek or Penrose) are responsible for the generation of jets and how disruptions in the accretion flow of matter onto a black hole, instabilities, or shock waves affect the dynamics and stability of jets.
The most powerful method for studying jets is ultra-long baseline interferometry, which makes it possible to achieve high angular resolution by placing telescopes on different continents ( Event Horizon Telescope ) or even in space ( RadioAstron ).
Latest observations of blazar OJ 287, which has two supermassive black holes
A team of astronomers led by José L. Gómez from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia published the results of an analysis of millimeter-wave and radio observations of the blazar OJ 287, carried out using the VLBI systems RadioAstron, GMVA, and VLBA, during which it was achieved the resolution is about 12 microseconds of arc.
OJ 287 is considered one of the most remarkable examples of an active galactic nucleus, the light from which takes 5 billion years to reach the Earth.
Every 12 years it gives rise to bursts of radiation, which are explained by the existence of an active binary system of supermassive black holes, where the smaller of the holes periodically flies through the accretion disk. In addition, black holes are responsible for the generation of jets.
The curvature of the jet directed towards the terrestrial observer is associated with an asymmetric accretion flow, and the systematic rotation of the jet axis is associated with the Lense-Thirring effect of precession caused by the second black hole.
The researchers determined that the jet is indeed curved down to the smallest available spatial scales, consistent with the predictions of the double supermassive black hole model, although other models cannot be completely ruled out. Images of the jet in polarized light showed that its innermost region was pierced by a helical magnetic field, as predicted by the models.
By the way, researchers recently discovered a most unique black hole – instead of devouring stars, it influences their formation. Read all about the extraordinary discovery here.
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• Dey, L., Valtonen, M. J., Gopakumar, A., Lico, R., Gomez, J. L., Susobhanan, A., Komossa, S., & Pihajoki, P. (2021, March 18). Explaining temporal variations in the jet position angle of the blazar OJ 287 using its binary black hole central engine model. arXiv.org.
• Gómez, J. L., Traianou, E., & Krichbaum, T. P. (2022, January 19). Probing the Innermost Regions of AGN Jets and Their Magnetic Fields with RadioAstron. V. Space and Ground Millimeter-VLBI Imaging of OJ 287. The Astrophysical Journal.
• JIVE. (n.d.). Breaking the resolution boundaries: Observing the supermassive black hole binary candidate OJ 287 from Earth and space.
• NASA. (n.d.). Animation of Black Hole Disk Flare in OJ 287.
• Sillanpaa, A., Haarala, S., Valtonen, M. J., Sundelius, B., & Byrd, G. G. (n.d.). OJ 287: Binary Pair of supermassive black holes. NASA/ADS.