It's not easy being a star in space, especially in the case of a star that was devoured by a black hole in an incredible galactic event.
The Discovery Of A Black Hole Devouring A Star
Astronomers witnessed a gigantic black hole rip apart a star that just happened to move a little closer to it. The black hole was reported to be 20 million times larger than the sun.
The findings were published in the journal Science on June 14.
When the black hole devoured the star, it shot out a fast group of particles that contained 125 billion times the amount of energy that the sun releases annually. The incident happened 150 million light-years from Earth.
Using the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), scientists took images of the violent incident known as a tidal disruption event (TDE). Although a few of them have ever been previously detected, this incident marked the first time that scientists saw one.
"Never before have we been able to directly observe the formation and evolution of a jet from one of these events," said astronomer Miguel Perez-Torres.
The Scientific Significance Of This Discovery
The first TDE recorded by scientists came on January 30, 2005. Researchers were able to record an explosion of infrared emission from the nucleus in a galaxy located in Arp 299. Events such this one are more abundant in the distant universe due to galaxies evolving in earlier stages. By July 2005, a new source of radio emission emerged from the location of Arp 299.
Since most black holes typically don't rip apart stars or other objects, scientists don't get to catch any of the exciting moments. When scientists do spot a TDE, it is an opportunity to learn more about how black holes function in the universe.
To keep track of a TDE, astronomers have to use a lot of technology. Many radio telescope antennas around the world are used for the purpose of catching a TDE. It is the only way for the scientists to track one of them, but it is worth it. The data provided with this method can give scientists new insight about TDE.
With this new discovery, astronomers can learn more about how black holes destroy stars. It could also provide insight about how infrared and radio telescopes can be used to catch new types of events in space that have been previously undetected.