Object mistaken as a galaxy is actually a black hole pointed directly at Earth

According to new study, an object that was once believed to be a radio galaxy is actually an active black hole that changed angles to aim straight at Earth.

Scientists are baffled by a supermassive black hole in a far-off galaxy that has suddenly turned sharply 90 degrees to face straight toward Earth while spewing radiation at close to light speed.

The ravenous black holes at the centers of many other galaxies are known as active galactic nuclei (AGN), which accrete matter and release potent relativistic streams of high-energy particles. AGN are categorized based on the portion that is aimed at Earth.

PBC J2333.9-2343, a massive galaxy with a diameter of 4 million light-years, was originally categorized as a radio galaxy, which meant that the enormous jets of radiation coming from its AGN were directed away from Earth. However, recent study redesignates the galaxy as a blazar, meaning the black hole's jets are now directed directly at Earth. This new classification was made public on March 20 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. This indicates a "dramatic" degree of change in the galaxy's jets, according to the study's authors.

According to lead study author Lorena Hernández-Garca, an astrophysicist at the Millennium Institute of Astrophysics, "Our hypothesis was that the relativistic jet of its supermassive black hole had changed its direction, and to confirm that idea we had to carry out a lot of observations."

From radio waves to gamma rays, Hernández-Garca and coworkers witnessed PBC J2333.9-2343 over almost the complete electromagnetic spectrum. Their studies revealed that this galaxy exhibited blazar-like traits, including comparable jets and brightening and dimming patterns. So, they came to the conclusion that the item was probably a blazar.

The researchers also noticed two lobes, where some jets had earlier left their imprint and where an AGN's jets engage with the nearby gas. The lobes of this blazar, according to Hernández-Garca, are "very old," and "they are the remnants of past activity, in contrast to the structures located closer to the nucleus, which represent younger and active jets."

These inactive lobes are proof that the aircraft have indeed altered course. The appearance of a galaxy's rockets in various locations is not entirely unusual. However, in earlier instances, there were two pairs of lobes, which meant that two distinct jets were going on and off. There appears to be only one source of action for PBC J2333.9-2343, and that source has altered its strategy.

What led to this significant shift? That is still being worked out by astronomers. According to current hypotheses, PBC J2333.9-2343 and another big galaxy collided, causing everything inside it to move around and undergo a galactic merger. For this riddle to be solved, more data are required.