Supermassive black hole shreds entire star which leads to huge eruption

A NASA computer-simulated image of gas from a star getting swallowed by a black hole and gas ejecting at light-speed into space

The moment the black hole destroyed a star took place in a pair of colliding galaxies called Arp 299, almost 150 million light-years from Earth.

In the end, one half of the mass of the star is absorbed by the black hole, and the other is thrown away. For the first time, astronomers have directly imaged a supermassive black hole ejecting a fast-moving jet of particles as it shreds a passing star.

"The combination of our infrared and radio observations, coupled with state-of-the art simulations of radio jets and calculations of infrared emission from the dusty regions surrounding a supermassive black hole, left us with one plausible explanation - the infrared and the radio emission came from the disruption of a hapless star being devoured by the supermassive black hole when it passed too close to this cosmic monster".

The act of a star being "spaghettified" as it approaches a black hole's event horizon is known as a "tidal disruption event" (TDE) and scientists have only detected a handful of them over the years.

Theoretical astrophysicists believe that material pulled from the doomed stars forms a rotating disk around the black hole, emitting intense radiation and shoots powerful jets of material from the poles of the disk, close to the speed of light. These observations eventually showed the presence of a unidirectional emission of matter, from the edge of the black hole, moving about 1/4 of the speed of light and thus confirming its relativistic jet nature.

Earlier it was reported that Hubble took a picture of the galaxy, which absorbs a supermassive black hole.

According to the researchers, the jet is emitted by a supermassive black hole, located at the heart of one of the colliding galaxies pairs called Arp 299. It could also provide insight about how infrared and radio telescopes can be used to catch new types of events in space that have been previously undetected.

Originally those jets, from Earth, appeared as a supernova. They also said that such events could be the key to understanding the conditions in which galaxies developed millions of years ago since it is probable that these would have been common in the distant Universe.

On July 17, 2005, NSF's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) revealed a new, distinct source of radio emission from the same location.

The findings of the study mean that scientists may be able to use infrared and radio wave emissions to better identify black holes in the future.

The results, led by the University of Turku in Finland and the Astrophysical Institute of Andalucia in Spain, and including Imperial College London researchers, are published online today in the journal Science. Science operations are conducted at the Spitzer Science Center at Caltech in Pasadena. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., in Washington.

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