Scientists have captured a colossal black hole that violently tears a doomed star apart, illustrating an extraordinary and chaotic cosmic event from beginning to end for the first time using NASA’s planetary yacht telescope.
The orbit of the US space agency Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS, revealed the detailed timeline of a star 375 million light-years away and shrunk in the relentless appeal of a super-heavy black hole, researchers said on Thursday.
The star, about the size of our sun, was eventually sucked into oblivion in a rare cosmic event that astronomers call a tidal disturbance, she added.
Astronomers used an international network of telescopes to detect the phenomenon before turning to TESS, whose permanent viewing zones, designed to hunt distant planets, marked the start of the violent event, and effectively proved its unique method of investigating the cosmos.
“This was really a combination of both good and good luck, and sometimes that’s what you need to advance science,” said astronomer Thomas Holoien of the Carnegie Institute of Science, who led the research that was published in the Astrophysical Journal .
Such phenomena occur when a star moves too close to a super-heavy black hole, objects that are in the middle of most major galaxies, including our Milky Way. The enormous gravitational forces of the black hole tear the star to shreds, with some of the material being thrown into space and the rest dipping into the black hole and forming a disc of hot, clear gas as it is swallowed.
“In particular, we are able to measure the speed at which it becomes brighter after it starts to light up, and we have also observed a drop in temperature and brightness that is unique,” Holoien said.
Observing the oscillation of light as the black hole swallows the star and sprays star material into an outer spiral can help astronomers understand the behavior of the black hole, a scientific mystery because the work of physicist Albert Einstein more than a century ago influence of gravity on moving light.
© Thomson Reuters 2019
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