Supermassive Black Hole Eating a Star Finally Observed

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The scientists have managed to observe one of the most fascinating events taking place in the Universe. For the first time we were able to see the formation and expansion of the rapidly-moving jet of material that was ejected while a black hole was eating a star.

Star twice as big as the Sun swallowed by a black hole

This dramatic event took place in a pair of colliding galaxies, named Arp 299, located some 150 million light-years from Earth. A supermassive black hole placed in the middle of one of these galaxies was tearing apart a star that came close to it, throwing out a vast blast in the process. To describe just how large the scale of this event was, we need to mention that the star was twice the size of the Sun, and the black hole was 20 million times bigger than our Sun.

Formation of the jet

According to scientists, such events are common in the Universe. But still, this is only the first time the blast has been seen. It was speculated that while the black hole tears the star apart, the material from the star creates a rotating disk surrounding the black hole, at the same time emitting strong X-rays and light. The material is also being pushed outward from the poles of the disk in the form of a jet that almost reaches the speed of light.

Residing in most of the galaxies, supermassive black holes stay quiet more often than not. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of the observed events and improve our knowledge about the way the jets develop and evolve. According to researchers, this can be just the beginning, as new research methods are going to be deployed, including observations with infrared and radio telescopes. This will greatly improve our chances of locating any hidden events in the future.

Patrick Supernaw

Patrick Supernaw is the lead editor for Great Lakes Ledger. Patrick has written for many publications including The Huffington Post and Vanity Fair. Patrick is based in Ottawa and covers issues affecting his city. In addition to his severe hockey addiction, Pat also enjoys kayaking and can often be found paddling the Rideau Canal. Contact Pat here