Astronomers Directly Image Black Hole Shredding a Star


The colliding galaxies, Arp 299, is 150 million light-years away from Earth-a distance that is equivalent to traveling from the Earth and to the Sun 9.5 trillion times, Gizmodo reported.

Most galaxies have a supermassive black hole that can be millions of times bigger than our sun.

Radio-telescope images of Tidal Disruption Event in Arp 299.

The encounters between black holes and stars are not rare occurrences on a cosmic scale, and when such an event occurs, the powerful gravitational tidal forces of the black hole are responsible for the emission of an impressive jet of matter, while the star finds itself inexorably dislocated.

It was seen "gobbling a star twice the size of the Sun", says Sky News, and then ejecting a "rapid jet of particles".

"Never before have we been able to directly observe the formation and evolution of a jet from one of these events", Miguel Perez-Torres, of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia, another of the 36 total authors on the paper, said.

Back in 2005, scientists caught a stunning burst of infrared emission emanating from one of the Arp 299 galaxies' nucleus.

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Scientists have observed the after eruptions of a black hole consuming a star for the first time ever. A TDE was recently observed near the center of Arp299B. There was little visible light, which the researchers argue is down to the surrounding dust absorbing visible light and re-radiating it as infrared light. Over time, the source of radio emission expanded in one direction and emitted a fast-moving jet of material. The sudden injection of material produces a bright flash, followed by transient radio emissions and the formation of a jet of material that initially moves at speeds very close to that of light. The radio waves are not absorbed by the dust, but pass through it.

Astronomers hope their finding may help discover many new instances of black holes destroying stars. The material of the star falls into the black hole.

It also launches jets of material outward from the poles of the disk at almost the speed of light. Called Tidal Disruption Events (TDE), they are rarely detected, but scientists hypothesise that they happen quite frequently.

Over the years, the researchers noted the object in question remained bright in infrared and radio light, but not in x-ray or visible wavelength of the spectrum. Arp 299 has seen numerous stellar explosions, and has been dubbed a "supernova factory".

Originally those jets, from Earth, appeared as a supernova.

"That they were able to resolve the jet and track its motion is super exciting", Ashley Bevin, programme director from the National Science Foundation, who was not involved in the study, told Gizmodo. The results of the observation were published in the journal Science. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.