'Spaghettification' of star shredded by black hole witnessed by astronomers

  • 'Spaghettification' of star shredded by black hole witnessed by astronomers

'Spaghettification' of star shredded by black hole witnessed by astronomers

Earlier this year, a team confirmed that some of the debris from the disrupted star swirls into a disc of material that feeds into the black hole, like water down a drain.

Through constant vigilance and some good fortune, astronomers have managed to capture the moment a supermassive black hole in a galaxy 215 million light-years away tore a star apart.

"When an unlucky star wanders too close to a supermassive black hole in the centre of a galaxy, the extreme gravitational pull of the black hole shreds the star into thin streams of material", explains study author Thomas Wevers, an ESO Fellow in Santiago, Chile, who was at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK, when he conducted the work.

The new TDE, first spotted in September of past year and named AT2019qiz, is now helping a team led by astronomer Matt Nicholl of the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom shed light on the origin of this dust. Astronomers tracked the fading flare for six months.

They observed the star being physically torn apart as it was sucked into the black hole's giant maw.

Initially they had trouble investigating the burst of light because dust and debris obstructed the view. In fact, researchers now know that, at least in this case, the black hole launched powerful jets of dust outward at velocities up to 10,000 km/s as it was eating the star.

The discovery was possible because of the tidal disruption event the team studied over a 6-month period, AT2019qiz, located in a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Eridanus.

"This unique "peek behind the curtain" provided the first opportunity to pinpoint the origin of the obscuring material and follow in real-time how it engulfs the black hole", Kate Alexander, NASA Einstein Fellow at Northwestern University in the United States added. "This unique "peek behind the curtain" provided the first opportunity to pinpoint the origin of the obscuring material and follow in real time how it engulfs the black hole".

Nicholl said that the observations suggested the star involved had roughly the mass as our own sun, but that the black hole was "a monster. which is over a million times more massive".

The research helps us better understand supermassive black holes and how matter behaves in the extreme gravity environments around them.

Not long ago, a group affirmed that a portion of the garbage from the disturbed star whirls into a plate of material that takes care of into the black hole, similar to water down a channel.

"A few sky reviews found outflow from the new flowing interruption event rapidly after the star was torn separated", said space expert Thomas Wevers, who was at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom during the exploration.

Tidal disruption events-in which stars experience spaghettification-are powerful and bright, which should make them easy to study.

A similar TDE seen at radio wavelengths.

"This event teaches us about the detailed physical processes of accumulation and mass ejection from supermassive black holes", said astronomer Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

This encounter induces a spread in the specific orbital binding energy across the star that is orders of magnitude greater than the mean binding energy, sufficient to tear the star apart in a 'tidal disruption event'.

The glow itself is the result of the almost inexplicable forces of gravity and friction within the filaments of the cosmic event, which consist of matter from the star. The study was published in the European Southern Observatory's Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The observations also showed the destroyed star had about the same mass as our Sun.