LIVE NOW - Tidal Disruption Event: Astronomers watching black hole devour star emitting its last light

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Like a movie, scientists TODAY have been watching in awe a star too close to a black hole emit its last light as it's devoured by it

Witness The Very Last Scream of Light From a Star Devoured by a Black Hole

From the heart of a galaxy 215 million light-years away, a brilliant flash of light flared into the void of space - the last scream of light from a dying star as it veered too close and was pulled apart by a supermassive black hole.

It's the closest such death of a star we've ever observed, offering unprecedented insight into the violent cosmic process.

Although catching a stellar death-by-black-hole is uncommon, astronomers have observed enough by now to figure out the broad strokes of how it happens. When a star ventures too close, the immense tidal force of the black hole - the product of its gravitational field - first stretches and then pulls the star so hard that it's torn apart.

This tidal disruption event (TDE) releases a brilliant flare of light before the debris of the disintegrated star disappears beyond the black hole's event horizon. But that flare of light is often at least partially obscured by a cloud of dust, which makes studying the finer details difficult.

The new TDE, first spotted in September of last year and named AT2019qiz, is now helping a team led by astronomer Matt Nicholl of the University of Birmingham in the UK shed light on the origin of this dust.

"We found that, when a black hole devours a star, it can launch a powerful blast of material outwards that obstructs our view," said astronomer Samantha Oates of the University of Birmingham in the UK.

"Several sky surveys discovered emission from the new tidal disruption event very quickly after the star was ripped apart," said astronomer Thomas Wevers, who was at the University of Cambridge in the UK during the research.

"We immediately pointed a suite of ground-based and space telescopes in that direction to see how the light was produced."

As the star is torn apart, some of the resulting debris spaghettifies, attenuating into a long, thin thread of material that feeds into the black hole.

The flare is the result of intense gravitational and frictional influences in this accreting material. These influences heat the material to such high temperatures that the TDE can briefly outshine the host galaxy.


https://www.sciencealert.com/astron...of-light-from-a-star-devoured-by-a-black-hole
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
6,349
810
610
Boston, MA
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