In October 2018, a small star was ripped apart when it wandered too close to a black hole in a galaxy located 665 million light-years away from Earth. Three years later, in 2022, these scientists are detecting how it began to expel material.
“This took us completely by surprise: no one had ever seen anything like this before,” he says. yvette cedesassociate researcher.
The team concludes that the black hole is now ejecting material traveling at half the speed of light, but they are not sure why the outflow was delayed for several years. The results, described this week in the Astrophysical Journalmay help scientists better understand black holes’ feeding behavior, which Cendes likens to “belching” after a meal.
The team detected the unusual outburst while reviewing tidal disruption events (TDEs), when invading stars are swallowed by black holes, that have occurred in recent years.
Edo Berger, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and co-author of the new study, commented that “this is the first time we have witnessed such a long delay between feeding and departure. The next step is to explore if this really happens more regularly and we just haven’t been looking at TDEs late enough in their evolution.”