by Theodore Frimet
Ok. I’ll take what I can get. It is a dangerous thing to shout out a Hypothesis. Especially when professional scientists are doing the math, and writing their journal entries. And then you find a match! Ok, maybe this is a Sheldon moment. Not to be outdone, by this beloved member of the Big Bang Theory, I read the ensuing article. I chased down a few of the citations from the dusty, dank corridors of the WWW. Coughing up the dust, from this proverbial library, I find Russian literature that was previously hidden from my sight.
In the August 6, 2019 essay, “Planetary Nebula”, I chastised myself for being unable to source citations. My bridge forming relativistic electron scaffold, streaming from an active black hole, was not to be found. I couldn’t make the stream culpable for forming the matrix upon which white dwarfs caste their nebulae upon.
Within the reach of this Amateur, we were hopelessly entrenched with binary stars in the formation of Planetary Nebula. I discussed how those systems had long discarded their gas. They had left their binary partner, a White Dwarf, naked and alone.
Thru an online lecture, I learned to appreciate complementary light spectrums, and how they indicated the presence of binary stars, in nebulae local parentis. I finally alluded in closing, to complementary light spectrums, and periodicity of the light curve. “Perhaps where there is no light, there is only a hole. Look closely and find periods, with no complementary light spectrum, sans the ever present White Dwarf.”
I can now be a bit braver, and no longer hide in prose. Black holes are x-ray emitters and can be detected with x-ray telescopes. When Black Holes are quiet, they do not emit x-rays, and are not detectable. However, they can be detected if gravitationally bound to the White Dwarf. The dwarfs periodicity can be measured – either by occultation light data, or by alteration in her orbital data.
Kevin T Smith, writes the report on “A noninteracting low-mass black hole – giant star binary system”, (Science 01 Nov 2019: Vol. 366, Issue 6465, pp. 637-640 DOI: 10.1126/science.aau4005), writes about a 2.6 solar mass object that emits no light, including x-rays. Combining radial velocity and photometrics demonstrates that the massive star is in a binary system, paired with a black hole.
What led me to chuckle, were two references that I had long sought out. They were hiding in the Harvard repositories. This is the quote (Smith, et al) that brought me to their doorstep:
“Quiescent noninteracting black hole stellar binaries have not been found in radial velocity searches, although the existence of such systems has been discussed for decades (10, 11).”
(10) O. K. Guseinov, Y. B. Zel’dovich, Collapsed stars in binary systems. Sov. Astron. 10, 251 (1966). Google Scholar
(11) V. L. Trimble, K. S. Thorne, Spectroscopic binaries and collapsed stars. Astrophys. J. 156, 1013 (1969). doi:10.1086/150032 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
I gingerly keyed into the citation, numbered 10. The original article was submitted October 18, 1965. The Journal hailed from Soviet Astronomy, Vol. 10, p251. It discusses detection of collapsed stars, which are members of spectroscopic binaries.
I hold my breath, as I click on citation, numbered 11. In the abstract, I find, “the absence of a secondary spectrum in these systems, could, in principle, result from the secondary star’s being either a collapsed star or a massive neutron star.”
Although Einstein predicted black holes in 1916, the term “black hole” wasn’t coined until John Wheeler did so in 1967. So there are two caveats, here. In the citation, there is no mention of a black hole, only “collapsed stars”. And secondarily, the author appears uncomfortable with the lack of x-ray emissions. Reading further, they discard unseen companions that are less than the Chandrasekhar limit, and declare the unseen companion as a white dwarf. They back-reference to Zel’dovich & Guseinov, where discovery of x-rays or gamma-rays, “would constitute evidence for the presence of a collapsed star or neutron-star secondary.”
I remain comfortable in my wheel-house this morning. I add to the mix, from August’s essay, that nebular gas, structured upon relativistic outflow of electrons, and in many cases, no longer appearing present among the many nascent white dwarfs, have had their gaseous orbs and out-layers, gobbled up, long ago, by their unseen partner, a black hole. No Watson. No Holmes. Just sheer dumb luck.