Huge optical flares seen in one of the oldest astronomic objects

New Delhi, Feb 14 (FN Representative) A team of Indian astronomers has detected one of the strongest flares from a feeding supermassive black hole or blazar called BL Lacertae. The astronomers, led by Alok Chandra Gupta of the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, who has been following the blazar since October 2020 as part of an international observational campaign, detected the exceptionally high flare on January 16, 2021.

Data collected from the flares and the analysis is expected to open the door to the origin and evolution of the universe. Blazars or feeding supermassive black holes in the heart of distant galaxies receive a lot of attention from the astronomical community because of their complicated emission mechanism. They emit jets of charged particles traveling nearly at the speed of light and are one of the most luminous and energetic objects in the Universe. BL Lacertae blazar is 10 million light-years away and among the 50 most prominent blazars that can be observed with the help of a relatively small telescope. It was among the 3 to 4 blazars that was predicted to be experiencing flares by the Whole Earth Blazar Telescope (WEBT), an international consortium of astronomers. An analysis of the flare from this blazar, one of the oldest astronomical objects, can help trace the mass of the black hole and the source of this emission. Such analysis can provide a lead to probe into the mysteries and trace events at different stages of evolution of the Universe.