As our telescopes become more powerful, we are able to see more exotic cosmic objects. Eventually, we may even be able to take a snapshot of the supermassive black hole living in the center of our galaxy, but what will we see? According to two Japanese researchers, we might be able to spot a black hole ‘aurora.' But this isn't your average aurora.
When the solar wind slams into the Earth's atmosphere, the solar plasma (made up mainly of high-energy protons) hit air molecules, kicking off some light. When you have a lot of these collisions in the upper atmosphere, the sky will light up as an aurora.
However, a black hole doesn't have an atmosphere like ours, so how can an aurora be generated?
Spin It, Feed It
Masaaki Takahashi, from Aichi University of Education, Kariya, and Rohta Takahashi, from the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, Wako, started out by modeling a rapidly spinning black hole.
As black holes have a massive gravitational pull, they will suck in any dust, gas or even stars that stray too close. If you have a spinning black hole, it's predicted to form a disk of hot radiating plasma around its equator. This is called an ‘accretion disk.' As the disk will contain charged particles, it's possible that a magnetic field will be generated - much like the internal dynamo of the Earth, generating the magnetic field of our magnetosphere.