This artist’s impression illustrates how it looks when a star is too close to a black hole, where the star is being pulled out by the black hole’s intense gravity. Some of the material from the star is pulled in and swirls around the black hole forming the disk that can be seen in this image. In rare cases, such as here, material bursts and radiation is emitted from the pole of the black hole. (ESO, M.Kornmesser via Reuters)
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WASHINGTON – Astronomers have detected an act of extreme violence more than half way across the universe known as a black hole star that was roaming too close to this violent star. But this was no ordinary example of a most rapacious hole.
It was just one of four examples – and the first since 2011 – of a black hole observed in the act of tearing apart a passing star in what is called a tidal disruption event and then breaks off a luminous jet of high-energy particles in opposite directions. space, the researchers said. And it was the most famous memory of all.
Astronomers described the event in studies published on Wednesday in the journals Nature and Nature Astronomy.
A supermassive black hole is believed to be a supermassive black hole, hundreds of millions of times the mass of our sun, located about 8.5 billion light-years from Earth. A light year is the distance of light in a year, 5.9 trillion miles.
“We think the star was similar to our own, maybe of a larger type but common,” said astronomer Igor Andreoni of the University of Maryland and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, one of the lead authors of the study.
The event was detected in February by the Zwicky Transiting Facility astronomical survey using a camera telescope attached to the Palomar Observatory in California. The distance was calculated using the European Observatory’s Large Southern Telescope in Chile.
“When a star gets dangerously close to a black hole – no worries, this won’t happen to the sun – it is violently torn apart by the gravitational forces of the black hole’s tides – similar to how the moon pulls tides on Earth but with greater force,” he said. University of Minnesota astronomer and study co-author Michael Coughlin.
“Then parts of the star are captured in a rapidly rotating orb of a black hole. Finally, the black hole consumes what remains of the damned star in the orb. In some very rare cases, which we estimate to be 100 times rarer; powerful jets of material are launched in opposite directions when a tidal disruption event occurs “, Coughlin added.
Andreoni and Coughlin said the black hole is flying fast, which could help explain how the two powerful bursts are launched into space at nearly the speed of light.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology astronomer Dheeraj Pasham, author of another study, said researchers could observe the event very early on — within a week — of the black hole starting to consume the doomed star.
While researchers detect breakouts about twice a month, the ones that happen right away are extremely rare. One of the plumes emanating from this black hole appears to look towards Earth, appearing brighter than if it were heading in the other direction – an effect known as “Doppler boosting”, which is similar to the amplified sound of a police siren passing by.
A supermassive black hole is believed to reside at the center of a galaxy – the size of the Milky Way and most galaxies have one of these at their core. But the tidal disturbance event was so bright that it dimmed the galaxy’s starlight.
“At its peak, the source appeared brighter than a thousand trillion suns,” Pasham said.
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