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A rare and enigmatic outburst from a galaxy 236 million light-years away may have been sparked by a magnetic reversal, a spontaneous flip of the magnetic field surrounding its central black hole.

Artist’s impression of the unusual eruption of the galaxy 1ES 1927+654. A sudden reversal of the magnetic field around its million-solar-mass black hole may have triggered the outburst. Credit: NASA.

In a comprehensive new study, an international science team links the eruption’s unusual characteristics to changes in the black hole’s environment that likely would be triggered by such a magnetic switch.

“Rapid changes in visible and ultraviolet light have been seen in a few dozen galaxies similar to this one,” said Sibasish Laha, a research scientist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “But this event marks the first time we’ve seen X-rays dropping out completely while the other wavelengths brighten.”

A paper describing the findings, led by Laha, is accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. Read more in the original article: NASA

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