Star Eaten By Black Hole Resulting ‘Disruption Event’ Was In Telescopes Throughout The World



Scientists have discovered a ray of light which is not commonly seen from stars as it was eaten by a black hole.

The strange ‘tidal disruption event’ could be seen in telescopes throughout the entire world. The event was seen as a huge amount of energy, the highest of its kind that was recorded throughout the history. It was only 215 million light-years far.

These events occur as a start gets too much closer to a black hole, and is dragged by its intense gravity.

As the star is dragged in, the star happens to go through a process which is called “spaghettification”. What happens in this process is that the star is torn into small strips and few of these strips drop into the black hole.

When this sort of event happens, a flare of energy is released to the entire universe, by giving the chance to astronomers from distant places to witness the rare event.

“The idea of a black hole ‘sucking in’ a nearby star sounds like science fiction. But this is exactly what happens in a tidal disruption event,” explained lead author Dr Matt Nicholl, who is a lecturer and Royal Astronomical Society Research fellow at the University of Birmingham. “We were able to investigate in detail what happens when a star is eaten by such a monster.”

Researchers got the chance to witness the incident through telescopes throughout the entire world.  The Very Large Telescope and New Technology Telescope of the European Southern Observatory, the Las Cumbres Observatory global telescope network, and the Neil Gehral’s Swift Satellite – examined this incident throughout the past six months as it began to grow larger and then shaded its brightness little by little.

This sort of a view is very hard to see because the tidal disruption events are normally covered up by dust and debris, which usually cannot be seen. This has made the task of witnessing the nature of the flare that is released very hard.

“When a black hole devours a star, it can launch a powerful blast of material outwards that obstructs our view,” said Samantha Oates, also at the University of Birmingham. “This happens because the energy released as the black hole eats up stellar material propels the star’s debris outwards.”

Astronomers were fortunate to observe this one, called AT2019qiz, more closely than ever before due to the reason that it was identified soon after the star was torn into shreds.

“Several sky surveys discovered emission from the new tidal disruption event very quickly after the star was ripped apart,” describes Thomas Wevers, an ESO fellow in Santiago, Chile who was a member at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, UK, while he was handling the work. “We immediately pointed a suite of ground-based and space telescopes in that direction to see how the light was produced.”

That gives them the chance to understand the situations of both the flare and the debris that would normally envelop it.

For the very first time throughout history, astronomers were fortunate to witness the rays namely ultraviolet, optical, X-ray, and radio that were released during the event and identify a direct contact between the bright flare pushed out as the star is dragged by the black hole and its material.

“The observations showed that the star had roughly the same mass as our own Sun, and that it lost about half of that to the black hole, which is over a million times more massive,” further explained Nicholl, who is another visiting researcher at the University of Edinburgh.

The process was covered up by the clouds that came up with debris and it was also seen by the researchers.

“Because we caught it early, we could actually see the curtain of dust and debris being drawn up as the black hole launched a powerful outflow of material with velocities up to 10 000 km/s,” illustrated Kate Alexander, NASA Einstein Fellow at Northwestern University in US. “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.”

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