Demystify the pulse of the black hole! New FAST study is published in Nature

In the early morning of July 27, Beijing time, the international scientific journal Nature published the latest results surrounding the discovery of China’s Sky Eye FAST. The international collaborative research paper “Sub-second periodic radio oscillations in a microquasar” jointly led by the Department of Astronomy of Wuhan University and the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed the complex dynamics of black hole jets.

Microquasars are binary star systems composed of a neutron star or black hole and an ordinary star in the Milky Way, and the material of the neutron star or black hole accretion of the star produces a high-temperature accretion disk and relativistic jets, which are observed as intermittent or long-term changing X-ray and radio radiation, and are natural laboratories for the study of strong gravitational fields and relativistic physics. GRS 1915+105 is a well-known microquasar containing a rapidly rotating black hole and observing radio jets moving at superluminal speeds, an important sample for studying extremely energetic physical processes. For nearly 30 years since its discovery, the black hole has been rich in X-ray photomutation signatures and intermittent radio jets, but the dynamics of black hole jets and the origin of rapid photochanges remain unclear.

In order to demystify the relativistic jets of microquasars, the international cooperation research team used FAST to monitor the light variation and polarization of GRS 1915+105 with high time accuracy for the first time from 2020 to 2022. Taking advantage of FAST high sampling and detection sensitivity, two observations in January 2021 and June 2022 found that the black hole had a weak radio pulse with a pulse period of about 0.2 seconds. This pulse cycle is unstable and undetectable most of the time, so it is called quasi-periodic oscillation.

Among the collaborative research results, Tian Pengfu, Dr. Zhang Ping, Professor Wang Wei of Wuhan University and Associate Professor Wang Pei of the National Astronomical Observatory are co-first authors, and researchers Liu Jifeng, Jiang Peng and Li Jing of the National Astronomical Observatory are co-authors.

This achievement is the first international observation of the phenomenon of sub-second low-frequency radio quasi-periodic oscillations in microquasars, and reveals that the quasi-periodic oscillations of the black hole system are directly related to relativistic jets. The discovery of the radio radiation pulse of the black hole is of great scientific significance for revealing the origin and dynamic process of the relativistic radio jet of compact objects, and will open up new ideas for radio observation and theoretical research of black holes. (Source: China Science News Gan Xiao)

Schematic diagram of the study (Photo courtesy of the National Astronomical Observatory)

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