OJ 287 is a binary star system consisting of a black hole with a slow spiral orbit caused by energy loss due to gravitational radiation. Until now, signals emanating from binary star systems have been associated with either supermassive primordial black holes or the gaseous accretion disks that surround them. However, an international research team recently obtained new data about this system by observing signals coming directly from smaller (secondary) black holes. Scientists say they have been able to “see” a secondary black hole for the first time using measurements of polarized light from OJ 287. In the new study, scientists used seven telescopes equipped with specialized polarimetry equipment to perform the most comprehensive polarization monitoring to date. “We have discovered a general law that OJ 287 follows: an increase in total luminescence leads to an increase in polarization, and vice versa,” said Professor Alok K. Gupta, lead author of the study.
However, interestingly, there are cases in which this rule does not apply. Models show that this disturbance is likely due to two overlapping signals: one from the primary black hole and one from the secondary black hole. The two black holes are so close together that they appear as a single point of light. “Only by exploiting the polarization of light, which contributes to the overall optical signal, can we be reasonably sure that there are actually two light sources, two black holes,” said Professor Gupta. – “Violations of the general rule occur at moments when secondary black holes are expected to be active in the binary model. Signals from smaller secondary black holes are typically not detected.” The activity of the secondary elements is related to the approach to the primary gas disc, which provides nourishing substances to the secondary elements. ” This gives you a bright signal ranging from radio to gamma rays. Recently, the latest signals were used to test orbital models. “Polarization data now support this interpretation. We therefore believe that OJ 287 is indeed a supermassive black hole binary system and that the signals of both components are separated despite their close proximity to each other. I am confident that it can be done,” the professor said. Gu Minfeng of the Shanghai Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is a co-author of the study. The paper was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters in October.