Nepal | August 12, 2020

Caught in the act: a black hole rips apart an unfortunate star

REUTERS
Share Now:

WASHINGTON: Scientists have captured a view of a colossal black hole violently ripping apart a doomed star, illustrating a extraordinary and chaotic cosmic event from beginning to end for the first time using NASA’s planet-hunting telescope.

The US space agency’s orbiting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS, revealed the detailed timeline of a star 375 million light-years away warping and spiraling into the unrelenting gravitational pull of a supermassive black hole, researchers said on Thursday.

The star, roughly the same size as our sun, was eventually sucked into oblivion in a rare cosmic occurrence that astronomers call a tidal disruption event, they added.

After passing too close to a supermassive black hole, a star is torn apart into a thin stream of gas, which is then pulled back around the black hole and slams into itself, creating a bright shock and ejecting more hot material, in this artist’s conception released on September 26, 2019. Photo: Reuters

Astronomers used an international network of telescopes to detect the phenomenon before turning to TESS, whose permanent viewing zones designed to hunt distant planets caught the beginning of the violent event, proving effective its unique method of surveilling the cosmos.

“This was really a combination of both being good and being lucky, and sometimes that’s what you need to push the science forward,” said astronomer Thomas Holoien of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who led the research published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Such phenomena happen when a star ventures too close to a supermassive black hole, objects that reside at the center of most large galaxies including our Milky Way. The black hole’s tremendous gravitational forces tear the star to shreds, with some of its material tossed into space and the rest plunging into the black hole, forming a disk of hot, bright gas as it is swallowed.

“Specifically, we are able to measure the rate at which it gets brighter after it starts brightening, and we also observed a drop in its temperature and brightness that is unique,” Holoien said.

Observing the oscillation of light as the black hole gobbles the star and spews stellar material in an outward spiral could help astronomers understand the black hole’s behavior, a scientific mystery since physicist Albert Einstein’s work more than a century ago examined gravity’s influence on light in motion.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Extra-time Fernandes penalty sends United into Europa semis

COLOGNE: Manchester United were forced to dig deep to reach the Europa League semi-finals as Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes converted a 95th-minute penalty to secure a 1-0 win over a stubborn FC Copenhagen side after extra time on Monday. United, who won Europe's second-tier comp Read More...

Coronavirus in APF personnel increases risk of community spread in Jhapa

Jhapa, August 10 It is suspected that COVID-19 has spread at the community level in Gauradah Municipality of Jhapa. With the detection of COVID in five people, including APF personnel today, the risk of COVID spread at the community level has increased in wards 6, 7 and 8 of the municipality. Read More...

Livewire Lukaku leads Inter to Europa League semi-finals

DUSSELDORF: Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen as he tormented the Germans to lead his side into the Europa League semi-finals on Monday. Nicolo Barella put Inter ahead after 15 minutes, driving the ball home after Lukaku's shot w Read More...

COVID cases on the rise in Dharan

Dharan, August 10 The number of people infected with COVID-19 is increasing in Dharan Sub-metropolitan City. Nine more people tested positive for the disease in the city today. After the virus spread in the community from Preeti Valve and Fittings factory in Dharan Industrial Estate, the su Read More...

Bara to set up 400-bed isolation ward

Bara, August 10 Authorities in Bara have decided to set up a 400-bed provincial isolation ward in Jitpursimara Sub-metropolitan City for treatment of coronavirus infected persons. “Work to construct the isolation ward will start from tomorrow and finish in two weeks,” said Jitpursimara sub Read More...

Cases of coronavirus rising among bank staff

KATHMANDU, AUGUST 10 The rising cases of coronavirus among bank staffers across the country have raised serious concerns over the effectiveness of measures adopted by banks and financial institutions (BFIs) to prevent the spread of the virus. As banking services are among essential services an Read More...

Four of a family dead as house collapses in Doti

DOTI: Four members of a family were killed after their house collapsed in Adharsha Rural Municipality-1 of Doti District on Monday night. The deceased have been identified as Loke Luhar, his wife Bishna (35), son Paras (11), daughter Siru (7) and Jenisha (4), informed Deputy Superintendent of Read More...

849 passengers arrive on last day of fourth phase of repatriation

KATHMANDU, AUGUST 10 A total of 849 Nepalis were evacuated today via five flights. According to Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) evacuated 151 passengers and Himalaya Airlines repatriated 149 passengers from Doha in Qatar. Himalaya Airlines also brought h Read More...