A study published in the journal Science by Johns Hopkins University researchers shows that scientists have, for the first time, observed a black hole consuming a star – with a flare of matter being ejected at high speed during the encounter, published in the journal Science.
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Almost the size of our sun, the star was observed as it left its normal path and entered into the energy field which made the larger black hole to suck it in – according to a Hubble fellow at Johns Hopkins, Sjoert van Velzen.
"These events are extremely rare," van Velzen said. "It's the first time we see everything from the stellar destruction followed by the launch of a conical outflow, also called a jet, and we watched it unfold over several months."
A black hole is a region of space resulting from the collapse of a star, and it has extremely high gravitational field that would not allow the passage of light, gas, or matter; it is nearly invisible on this account and makes space look void. It is estimated that a jet of plasma may emerge form a black hole when it consumes a considerable level of gas or star.
Van Velzen and the 13 US, UK, Australian, and Netherlands scientists he led noted that “previous efforts to find evidence for these jets, including my own, were late to the game.”
Scientists believe that the biggest black holes is at the core of many large galaxies, but the one under observation exists at the end of the spectrum and with the strength to consume a star, even though it is only a million times the mass of our sun.
Using an optical telescope in Hawaii, researchers from Ohio State University first witnessed the black hole gobbling the star in December 2014.
"The destruction of a star by a black hole is beautifully complicated, and far from understood," van Velzen said. "From our observations, we learn the streams of stellar debris can organize and make a jet rather quickly, which is valuable input for constructing a complete theory of these events."