Astronomers Observe Star Being Devoured By A Black Hole

Posted: Jun 17 2018, 8:07am CDT | by , in Technology News


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Astronomers Observe Star Being Devoured by a Black Hole
Credit: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF

Dying Star Being Sucked by Black Hole Shoot Bursts of Materials in Opposite Direction.

Scientists have always been trying to figure out what happens when a celestial object is absorbed by a black hole, in first of its kind of observation scientists found what really happened when a star came too close to a black hole.

During their observation of this event, scientists discovered that when the black hole’s gravity started sucking and ripping apart the star, the broken apart pieces of the star formed a spiral formation around the black hole, and a strong and fast-moving jet of material was ejected from the poles of the torn off pieces of the dying star.

This celestial event was captured using different advanced infrared and radio telescopes located at various locations around the world, one of them being the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).

"Because of the dust that absorbed any visible light, this particular tidal disruption event may be just the tip of the iceberg of what, until now, has been a hidden population," Mattila said. "By looking at these events with infrared and radio telescopes, we may be able to discover many more, and learn from them," he said.

The event took place at Arp 299, a site of the collision of two galaxies that is nearly 150 million light years away from the Earth. The star being sucked by the black hole is twice the size of our own Sun, while the black hole has a mass of 20 million times more than that of the Sun.

The event of such stellar deaths is also known as tidal disruption events (TDE), given the vast size of the universe such kind of incidents might be very common but very few of such violent encounters of destruction have been observed or noticed by scientists on Earth.

"Much of the time, however, supermassive black holes are not actively devouring anything, so they are in a quiet state," Perez-Torres explained. "Tidal disruption events can provide us with a unique opportunity to advance our understanding of the formation and evolution of jets in the vicinities of these powerful objects," he added.

According to scientist’s hypothesis before being sucked away totally, the doomed star gets broken down into a spiral shape around the black hole, and from the poles of the broken spiral star the jets of X-rays, visible light, and other material are shot out in the opposite side of the black hole. The speed of material being shot away by the dying star is very close to that of the speed of light.

"Never before have we been able to directly observe the formation and evolution of a jet from one of these events," said Miguel Perez-Torres, of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia in Granada, Spain.

Initially, the scientists misunderstood the event with supernovas, which are very common in Arp 299. However, with a continuous decade-long observation in laboratories spread around the world, they confirmed that it was not a supernova but indeed a burst of radio emission that is expanding in the opposite side of the black hole.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Manfred "Luigi" Lugmayr () is the founding Chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 25 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets, tech and online shopping. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology news and tech and toy shopping hub.
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