Space

Scientists capture a black hole swallowing a star for the first time ever

Scientists capture a black hol...
An artist's impression of a star being pulled in by the gravity of a black hole (left), and the resulting jet of plasma (right)
An artist's impression of a star being pulled in by the gravity of a black hole (left), and the resulting jet of plasma (right)
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An artist's impression of a star being pulled in by the gravity of a black hole (left), and the resulting jet of plasma (right)
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An artist's impression of a star being pulled in by the gravity of a black hole (left), and the resulting jet of plasma (right)

An international team of researchers has observed a black hole swallowing up a star for the first time.The rare event took place over several months, and the results of the study confirm an existing black hole theory.

Black holes are huge, extremely dense areas of space with gravitational pulls so extreme that neither matter nor light can escape. This property can make them difficult to observe, appearing as huge voids in space. Theories suggest that when a large volume of gas is pulled in by such an object, a fast moving jet of plasma traveling at close to the speed of light escapes from near the black hole rim.

Over the last 12 months, astronomers were provided with a rare opportunity to study such an event, giving them a chance to test the theory. The observations focused on a supermassive black hole roughly one million times the mass of our sun, located some 300 million light years away.

The event was first spotted in December2014 by astronomers at the Ohio State University, who were making use of an optical telescope in Hawaii. A team from the UK's University ofOxford then turned radio telescopes towards the object, catching the event just in time. Overall, the international effort resulted in the gathering of optical, X-ray and radio data, which come together to provide a detailed and highly valuable record of the event.

The researchers were able to confirm that the observed light was not the product of a pre-existing mass produced when a black hole consumes matter, known as an accretion disk. Instead, the multi-wavelength portrait confirmed that the increased light emission was the result of a newly trapped star, supporting the existing theories surrounding such an event.

"The destruction of a star by a blackhole is beautifully complicated, and far from understood," says JohnHopkins University's Sjoert van Velzen. "From our observations, we learn the streams of stellar debris can organize and make a jet rather quickly, which is valuable input for constructing a complete theory of these events."

The findings of the study were published in the journal Science.

Source: Johns Hopkins University

7 comments
StevePage
I get a little weary of these "artists impressions" of things that take hundreds or thousands of years to progress
swaan
Yes, pics or it didn't happen! :)
idp
I agree with StevePage, a whole team of "observers" witnessed something, but cant produce a single actual image???
If the gravitational pull of the Blackhole is so great that not even light or matter can escape, then how can a "fast moving jet of plasma travelling at close to the speed of light escape from near the black hole rim"
Lbrewer42
So now we are back to the other side of the coin again. Over the years since the 70's I have found it interesting how many times we have "seen a black hole for the first time" and verified they exist... to later see Hawkins who was lauded as genius for theorizing every little detail about them down to massive boson vector breakdowns along their event horizons said he has been wrong and black holes cannot exist the way he theorized.
The media version of "science" has fed us so much contradicting information we are just repeating the dark ages. However, this time the people pulling the strings are using the word "science" as their basis instead of "religious tradition." True science has been forfeited for theoretical - which is not science.
hogi90
well i know how they work, in my minds eye i have seen their power. they suck in swirl about, n spit out, simple. Imagine a whirlpool on top n a whirlpool on bottom, Hawking has nothing on me. Complicated no, creative yes. all new matter comes thru them. if u haven't an imagination make fun.
chrislafave
Scientists Capture an Artist's Impression -- Flatbed scanner employed in rapid capture of an artist's drawing.
Nathaneal Blemings
The article says that it was a combination of optical, radio and xray waves that showed them what was going on, its very possible that whatever picture they have wont be recognizable without taking the radiation sources into account. Also someone says these things take hundreds or thousands of years to progress but the article states it happened over the course of a few months to a year. Who do i believe? John hopkins university or some random person in the comments?
The thing that strikes me about this is the fact that what they were observing happened not only 300 million light years away, such a tremendous distance, but also that we are observing something that happened 300 million years ago, to me thats incredible fascinating(despite the fact that its not hard to look in the sky and find stuff that old and be observing the past in the same way).