NASA observes “unusually closely” a black hole devouring a star

What happens when a star gets too close to a black hole? NASA’s ‘unusually close’ observations reveal just how complex and catastrophic it can be.

The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said Tuesday that several telescopes recently observed a massive black hole about 10 times the mass of our sun located about 250 million light-years from Earth “tearing apart an unfortunate star that got too close.” . It was the fifth closest observation of such an event, known as a tidal disruption event, and was first spotted on March 1, 2021.

So what exactly happened when the star and the black hole crossed paths?

First of all, it’s not something that happens in one moment. According to NASA, it’s a long process that can take weeks or months as the black hole’s gravity slowly sucks in the star’s being. In the most recent observation, it took place over the course of about five and a half months.

“The side of the star closest to the black hole was pulled harder than the opposite side of the star, stretching the whole thing and leaving nothing but a long spaghetti of hot gas,” NASA said.

Observations of the event, dubbed AT2021ehb, were published in the Astrophysical Journal in September.

“Tidal disruption events are a kind of cosmic laboratory,” said study co-author Suvi Gezari. “They’re our window into the real-time feeding of a massive black hole lurking at the center of a galaxy.”

The study said the event also provided an “unprecedented insight” into one element of the process: the formation of a crown. This happened as the star was being broken up and generated a “dramatic increase” in high-energy X-ray light, NASA said. When that happened, the corona formed over the black hole.

But the creation of the corona — a cloud of hot plasma — in this particular event took astronomers by surprise. Coronas usually come with jets of gas flowing in opposite directions from the black hole, but in this case, there weren’t any jets at all.

Yuhan Yao, a Caltech graduate student and lead author of the study, said this is not only a rare occurrence but a totally new observation.

“We’ve never seen an X-ray emitting tidal disruption event like this without the presence of a jet, and it’s pretty spectacular because it means we can potentially untangle what’s causing the jets and what’s causing the coronas,” they said. . “Our observations of AT2021ehb are in agreement with the idea that magnetic fields have something to do with how the corona forms, and we want to know what is causing that magnetic field to get so strong.”

Rep. Adam Schiff on Criminal Referral Against Trump

6.4 magnitude earthquake strikes Northern California

Migrants, confused border officials, worried about the possible end of Title 42

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *