Sunday, February 5

NASA captures unusual close-up view of a black hole devouring a star | Digital Trends Spanish

Black Hole Tidal Disruption Event (Animation)

An extraordinary and unusual capture has been made by NASA of a black hole devouring a starin the closest registry that has been certified.

Located about 250 million light-years from Earth at the center of another galaxy, it was the fifth-closest example of a star-destroying black hole ever observed.

The satelite nuSTAR NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescopic Array is the most sensitive space telescope capable of observing these wavelengths of light, and the proximity of the event provided unprecedented insight into the formation and evolution of the corona, according to a new study published in the Astrophysical Journal.

The work demonstrates how the destruction of a star by a black hole, a process formally known as a tidal disruption event, could be used to better understand what happens to material captured by one of these giants before it is completely devoured.

Once the star was completely broken apart by the black hole’s gravity, astronomers saw a dramatic increase in high-energy X-ray light around the black hole. This indicated that as stellar material was drawn towards its doom, it formed an extremely hot structure above the black hole called the corona.

“Tidal disruption events are a kind of cosmic laboratory,” said study co-author Suvi Gezari, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. “They are our window into a real-time feed from a massive black hole lurking at the center of a galaxy.”

The focus of the new study is an event called AT2021ehb, which took place in a galaxy with a central black hole roughly 10 million times the mass of our Sun (about the difference between a bowling ball and the Titanic). During this tidal disruption event, the side of the star closest to the black hole was pulled in harder than the other side of the star, stretching the whole thing out and leaving nothing but a long noodle of hot gas.

“We’ve never seen an X-ray-emitting tidal disruption event like this without a jet present, and that’s really spectacular because it means we can potentially tease out what causes jets and what causes coronas,” said Yuhan Yao, a graduate student at Caltech in Pasadena, California, and lead author of the new study. “Our observations of AT2021ehb agree with the idea that magnetic fields have something to do with how the corona forms, and we want to know what is causing that magnetic field to get so strong.”

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