Scientists watch as supermassive black hole rips apart a star
New Delhi : First time ever, scientists have captured the formation and expansion of a fast-moving jet of material ejected when a supermassive black hole ripped apart a star that wandered too close to the cosmic monster.
The event was tracked with radio and infrared telescopes, including the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), in a pair of colliding galaxies called Arp 299, nearly 150 million light-years from Earth.
At the core of a galaxy, the scientists observed that a black whole 20 million times massive than the sun shredded a star twice in mass of the Sun. Such stellar deaths, called tidal disruption events, or TDEs.
“Never before have we been able to directly observe the formation and evolution of a jet from one of these events,” said Miguel Perez-Torres, of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia in Spain.
“Much of the time, however, supermassive black holes are not actively devouring anything, so they are in a quiet state,” Perez-Torres explained.
“Tidal disruption events can provide us with a unique opportunity to advance our understanding of the formation and evolution of jets in the vicinities of these powerful objects,” he added.