Black holes are fascinating, no I’m not talking about the black hole that was your mouth on Thanksgiving that vacuumed every morsel of turkey, mashed potatoes and pie. I’m talking about black holes in space that have a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape it. And scientists had their mind blown by observing a rare black hole event.
A black hole has so much gravitational pull that it can even swallow stars, and for the first time ever scientists documented this as well as an extraordinary phenomenon that followed. Astronomers tracked a star that was approximately the same size as our sun, but a staggering 300 million light years away. It had the unfortunate orbit of traveling too close to the black hole. Intense tidal forces rip the star apart and then it is devoured by the supermassive black hole. However, some of the star was burped out and a hot flare of matter was spewed out into space.
Researchers claim that this is the first time anyone has successfully picked up the radio signals produced by this flare of escaping matter. Black hole jets have been witnessed before, but they’ve never been directly linked to a star being obliterated.
“These events are extremely rare,” study author Sjoert van Velzen, a Hubble fellow at Johns Hopkins University, said in a statement. “It’s the first time we see everything from the stellar destruction followed by the launch of a conical outflow, also called a jet, and we watched it unfold over several months.”
The findings were published in the journal Science.
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