Black Hole Magnetic Reversal

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Credits for VS Library:

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Video imagery:

  • Animation of outburst from galaxy 1ES 1927+654: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Animation with graphics of magnetic pole reversal of supermassive black hole in galaxy 1ES 1927+654: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Jay Friedlander
  • Illustration of galaxy 1ES 1927+654: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak
Science review: Dr. Chris Britt 
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits

Stars against black outer space, blue, green, red, pink, orange, and purple nebulae, gas giants and galaxies.
Text, News From The Universe. May 18, 2022. Black Hole Magnetic Reversal. Animation.
A disc of yellow, orange, and brown gasses with a blue and purple exterior and a blue cone in the center that sticks out both sides spins on a tilted axis in space. It glows bright white and emits gasses above and below it. The cones in the center fade, then reappear.
Text, A distant galaxy became 100 times brighter in visible light, while its high-energy X-rays temporarily disappeared. Why? Astronomers think the magnetic poles of the galaxy's black hole flipped, which is not uncommon in nature. The Sun's poles flip about every 11 years.
A diagram with the bright disc at the center. Curved lines in yellow run through the center with arrows that point up. The top is labeled North and the bottom South. The disc flares brightly and curved lines in orange begin to run through the sides with arrows that point down. The yellow lines disappear the top is labeled South, the bottom North.
Text, As the flip began at the edges of the dusty disk surrounding the black hole, material fell inward and caused the increased brightness. As the flip progressed inward, the magnetic field weakened, causing the high-energy X-rays surrounding the black hole to vanish. Four months later the high-energy X-rays were detected again, indicating the galaxy was back to normal, but now with its poles fully reversed.
The galaxy as a disc gasses with a blue cone in the center that sticks out both sides. The cones are labeled high-energy X-rays.
Text, This news was brought to you in part by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, M.D.