Inicio > Ciencia > Los estudios sobre agujeros negros siguen sorprendiendo

Los estudios sobre agujeros negros siguen sorprendiendo

Los agujeros negros parecen desafiar nuestra comprensión, por lo que no soprende que una vez más los astrofísicos anuncien un descubrimiento sorprendente: los agujeros negros supermasivos de giro retrógrado pueden ser más poderosos y producir jets de gas más feroces que los agujeros negros de giro “normal”. Este hallazgo va en contra de muchas teorías formuladas hasta ahora sobre los agujeros negros, pero puede llegar a explicar cuestiones como el por qué algunos agujeros negros no emiten jets.
Los jets alcanzan grandes distancias a partir de los discos de acreción que giran en torno a muchos agujeros negros supermasivos. El agujero negro puede girar, en la misma dirección que el disco (agujeros negros prógrados), o en dirección contraria al disco (agujeros negros retrógrados). Durante décadas, los astrónomos pensaban que cuanto más rápido giraba el agujero negro, más potente era el jet. Pero hubo problemas con las teorías planteadas en este modelo. Por ejemplo, se había observado que algunos agujeros negros progrados no emitían jets.
El astrofísico teórico David Garofalo y sus colegas, han estado estudiando los movimientos de los agujeros negros durante años, y en trabajos anteriores, propusieron que los agujeros negros retrógrados arrojaban jets más potentes, mientras que los agujeros negros progrados tenían chorros más débiles o carecían de ellos.
Su nuevo estudio vincula su teoría con las observaciones de las galaxias a lo largo del tiempo, o a diferentes distancias de la Tierra. Se observaron tanto radiofuentes intensas de jets, como las fuentes débiles de radio y galaxias sin estas emisiones. El término “radio” viene del hecho de que estos chorros particulares disparan haces de luz sobre todo en forma de ondas de radio.
Los resultados mostraron que las galaxias de radio más distantes son alimentadas por agujeros negros retrógrados, mientras que los objetos más cercanos relativamente tranquilos en la región del espectro de las ondas de radio, tienen agujeros negros prógrados. Según el equipo, los agujeros negros supermasivos evolucionan desde un estado retrógrado a uno prógrado.
“Este nuevo modelo también resuelve una paradoja en el paradigma de los discos antiguos,” señaló David Meier, astrofísico teórico del JPL que no participó en el estudio. “Ahora todo encaja perfectamente en su lugar.”
Los científicos dicen que los agujeros negros retrógrados emiten jets más potentes porque hay más espacio entre el agujero negro y el borde interior del disco orbital. Esta diferencia proporciona más espacio para la acumulación de los campos magnéticos, que alimenta los chorros, una idea conocida como la conjetura de Reynolds en honor del astrofísico teórico Chris Reynolds de la Universidad de Maryland, College Park.
“Si te imaginas tratando de acercarte a un ventilador, puedes imaginar que te mueves en la dirección de rotación igual que la del ventilador, esto haría todo más fácil”, explicó Garófalo. “El mismo principio se aplica a estos agujeros negros. El material que orbita a su alrededor en un disco se acercará más a los que estén girando en la misma dirección, frente a los que giran en sentido contrario”.
Los chorros y los vientos juegan un papel clave en la configuración del destino de las galaxias. Algunas investigaciones muestran que los chorros pueden retrasar e incluso evitar la formación de estrellas no sólo en la propia galaxia anfitriona, sino también en otras galaxias cercanas.
“Los chorros transportan enormes cantidades de energía a las afueras de las galaxias, desplazando grandes volúmenes de gas intergaláctico, y actúan como agentes de retroalimentación entre el centro de la galaxia y el medio ambiente a gran escala” , explicó el miembro del equipo Rita M. Sambruna, del Centro Espacial Goddard. “Comprender su origen es de interés primordial en la actual astrofísica.”
El artículo del equipo se publicó el 27 de mayo en Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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