For the first time, space scientists have captured a black hole ripping apart a star, and the whole world can see it too.
A supermassive black hole weighs approximately 6 million times the mass of earth and is located about 375 million light-years away in the Volans constellation. Also, it can jet of particles containing 125 billion times more energy than the sun emits in a year.
Recently, a team of astronomers has observed this black holes destroying a star, which was approximately the size to that of sun.
Though the cosmic destruction happened in the galaxy, so far away, the aftermath projected radio waves strong enough to be detected by a NASA satellite on earth.
According to a post by WOSU radio station, the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, a NASA satellite and a network of super telescopes located at Ohio State University, captured this cosmic event for the first time on film.
This event, called Tidal Disruption Event (TDE) is not only rare, “for instance, over 10,000 to 100,000 years rare,” but also requires specific conditions to happen.
For example, if a star moves too close to the black hole, it’ll be sucked into the ‘void’ without a trace.
And if the star is too far, it can ricochet off the black holes, causing it to bounce off into space.
At a perfect distance, the black hole will rip a star apart, and some parts of the star will be sucked in by the black hole’s gravitational pull. The rest of the starry materials will be bounced back into space.
According to astronomers, these events are so rare, making them so hard to capture.
Astronomy professor at Ohio State, Chris Kochanek, told CNN:
“Imagine that you are standing on top of a skyscraper downtown, and you drop a marble off the top, and you are trying to get it to go down a hole in a manhole cover.”
In April 2018, NASA launched a TESS Satellite with advanced technology to detect early signs of a potential TDE. The satellite has a massive surveying area of 400 times larger than that of a Kepler telescope.
The recent tidal disruption event has been labeled ASASSN-19bt, and the research team observed it unfold for about 42 days before it peaked in its brightness, 37 days later.
Thomas Holoien, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institute for Science, said:
“Only a handful of TDEs have been discovered before they reached peak brightness and this one was found just a few days after it started to brighten.”
“Plus, thanks to it being in what’s called TESS’ ‘continuous viewing zone,’ we have observations of it every 30 minutes going back months — more than ever before possible for one of these events.”
Since the data collected during this TDE hasn’t been recorded before, space scientists hope to use the information to detect a possible event in the future.
The study’s co-author, Patrick Vallely, noted:
“It was once thought that all TDEs would look the same. But it turns out that astronomers just needed the ability to make more detailed observations of them.”