“We were stunned to see such a rare and dramatic change in Markarian 1018,” said Rebecca McElroy, from the University of Sydney and the ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO). “The chance observation of the galaxy so soon after it began to fade was an unexpected opportunity to learn what makes these galaxies tick,” added ESO astronomer Dr. Bernd Husemann. “We were lucky that we detected the event just 3-4 years after the decline started so we could begin monitoring campaigns to study details of the accretion physics of active galaxies that cannot be studied otherwise.”The team has taken advantage of this opportunity, making sure to pinpoint the reason on why Markarian 1018’s level of brightness change so wildly. This may have been triggered by any from a number of astral events, but they might rule out the black hole dragging in and overshadowing a lone star and doubt the possibility of being obscured by dominant gas. But the real reason for Markarian 1018’s abrupt variation remained unsolved after the first observation rounds. Not to worry because the new data from the said combined equipment on the first paragraph were able to help solve the mystery. The black hole slowly faded because it was out of accretion.
“It’s possible that this starvation is because the inflow of fuel is being disrupted. An intriguing possibility is that this could be due to interactions with a second supermassive black hole,” McElroy said.Such a black hole twin system is somewhat a distinct possibility in Markarian 1018 because the galaxy is a product of two galaxies doing a major merger with a supermassive black hole from either side. The findings will be available in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Get weekly science updates in your inbox!