One of the most mysterious objects for human beings, the concept of the black hole has always puzzled scientists. Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, astronomers now say that an image of a huge, spectacular set of rings around a black hole has been captured. Part of a binary system called V404 Cygni, the black hole is located about 7,800 light years away from Earth. Studying the rings of dust and matter around a black hole can help scientists solve some of the puzzles.

What’s a Black hole?

A black hole is a region of space that has such strong gravitational effects that even light can’t escape. A black hole is so dense and compacted that it forms its own boundary in space, creating a boundary in which light cannot necessarily cross. The boundary of a black hole is called the event horizon.

Black hole binary system

A black hole binary system is a binary system that contains a black hole in the center. Black holes and neutron star binaries are very common in space because they generate massive magnetic fields. When a neutron star collapses, it forms a black hole.  Several years later, another companion star is formed around the newly formed black hole.

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How do such spectacular rings form around a black hole?

In order to understand the formation of finely structured rings of gas, scientists are puzzled and are seeking alternative explanations for the formation of such rings. The black hole captured in a new image by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Neil Gehrels Swift observatory is forming a large cloud of gas, detected as a ring-like structure around the black hole.

Scientists are surprised to find out that this type of object is still not very well understood. There is still a debate about whether this type of object is formed due to the collapse of a star or due to the vortex-like activity of the system.

Scientists have theorized that two different processes cause the formation of such rings. One process is when material orbits around a neutron star, while the other one occurs in binary systems where gas surrounding an active central object creates these rings.

Formation of the disks in the image

Astronomers say that the black hole is actively pulling material away from a companion star, with about half the mass of the Sun, into a disk around the invisible object. This material glows in X-rays, so astronomers refer to these systems as “X-ray binaries.”

The usefulness of the images in future space exploration

Astronomers say the X-ray images of the giant rings reveal information about dust located in our galaxy. This is by using a similar principle to the X-rays performed in doctor’s offices and airports.

Moreover, the images offer a more detailed view of the formation of rings around black holes. This will benefit a lot in future space exploration.

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