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Star dies by “spaghetti” as it is swallowed by a supermassive black hole

Astronomers have witnessed an extremely rare phenomenon: the end of the star’s life, as it has been obliterated by supermassive black hole. And this particular collapse of the star was even more unique because she survived death by “spaghetti” – and no, that’s not science fiction.

According to a new study in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, astronomers from the transitional facility Zwicky have noticed an explosion of light, known as a tidal event, showing the death of the star in September 2019. This week, researchers said the nearest such phenomenon it once happened on Earth, which happens a little over 21

5 million light years ago.

“The idea of ​​a black hole sucking up a nearby star sounds like science fiction. But that’s exactly what happens in the event of a tidal disorder,” said lead author Matt Nickel of the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Using telescopes from the European Southern Observatory (ESO), scientists have been able to study in unprecedented detail exactly what happens when a star is swallowed by “monster” black hole. They said the star had about the same mass as the sun, about half of which was lost to the black hole, which is more than a million times larger. The other half was simultaneously thrown into space.

During this forced spaghetti process, the long thin strands of material that make up the star collapse into the strong gravity of the star. Black hole – which actually engulfs him like star spaghetti. The event releases a bright surge of energy that can be detected by astronomers.

This illustration depicts a star (foreground) experiencing spaghetti as it is sucked in by a supermassive black hole (background) during a high tide event.

ESO / M. Cereal knives

“When an unfortunate star wanders too close to a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy, the gravitational pull of the black hole shatters the star into thin streams of material,” said co-author Thomas Wevers, an ESO staffer in Santiago, Chile.

In the past, these missiles were often blocked by explosions of dust and debris, making them difficult to study. But this time the astronomers were lucky.

This tidal event, called AT2019qiz, was discovered immediately after the event, which facilitates monitoring. Researchers have been studying AT2019qiz, located in a spiral galaxy in the constellation Eridan, for six months as the burst gets brighter and brighter before it disappears.

Death from spaghetti: artistic animation of a star sucked by a black hole from
European Southern Observatory (ESO) on YouTube

“Because we caught it early, we could actually see the curtain of dust and debris close when the black hole launched a powerful material leak at speeds of up to 10,000 km / s,” said Kate Alexander, a NASA fellow at Einstein at Northwestern University. .

“This unique ‘peek behind the curtain’ provided the first opportunity to determine the origin of the blackout material and to track in real time how it absorbs the black hole.”

Astronomers said their observations showed for the first time a direct link between dust and debris emitted by the star and the bright eruption that occurs when it is swallowed by a black hole. They hope that AT2019qiz can serve as a Rosetta Stone, helping them to interpret future tidal events and deepen our understanding of the mysterious world of black holes.

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