The XRISM satellite detects iron signatures in a nearby active galaxy  Urania

After launching in February 2024, the XRISM mission explored the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy NGC 4151.

The XRISM Resolve (X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission) instrument captured a detailed spectrum of the surrounding area Black hole said Brian Williams, NASA’s project scientist for the mission. The peaks and troughs are like chemical fingerprints that can tell us what elements are present and reveal clues about the fate of matter as it approaches the black hole.

NGC4151 to Spiral galaxy It is located about 43 million Light year Th Constellation of the Hounds. It is located in its centre Giant black hole With a mass of more than 20 million solar masses.

The galaxy is also activeWhich means that its center is very bright and cold. Gas and dust are formed that swirl towards the black hole around it Accumulation disk They are heated due to the forces of gravity and friction, creating contrast. Some of the material at the edge of the black hole creates twin streams of particles that fly in from all sides at near high speeds The speed of light. A ring-shaped cloud of material surrounds the accretion disk.

In fact, NGC 4151 is one of the closest known active galaxies. Other missions including Chandra X-ray Observatory I Hubble Space TelescopeHe studied them to learn more about interactions between black holes and their surroundings, which could tell scientists how supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies grow over cosmic time.

The galaxy is very bright X rayThis makes it an ideal early target for XRISM.

The Resolve spectrum of NGC 4151 reveals a sharp peak at energies just below 6.5 kiloelectronvolts (keV).electron volt) – Iron emission line. Astronomers believe that most of the power of active galaxies comes from X-rays produced in the hot, glowing regions near the black hole. X-rays reflected from cold gas in the disk cause the iron to fluctuate, creating a characteristic X-ray peak. This allows astronomers to closely study both the accretion disk and the glow regions closest to the black hole.

The spectrum also shows several dips around 7 keV. Iron in the torus is also responsible for these dips, but through absorption of X-rays rather than emission, because the material in the torus is much cooler than that in the disk. All this radiation is about 2,500 times stronger than light visible to the human eye.

Iron is just one of the elements discovered by XRISM. The telescope can also detect sulfur, calcium, argon, and more depending on the source. Each one of them tells astrophysicists something different about the cosmic phenomena spreading across the X-ray sky.

Agnieszka Novak

more information:

Source: NASA

Pictured: An artist’s impression showing possible iron positions detected in the XRISM spectrum of NGC 4151. Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Concept Image Laboratory

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