- Title: Black hole rips apart a doomed star in "rare" event
- Date: 28th September 2019
- Summary: GREENBELT, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 27, 2019) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) NASA SCIENTIST KNICOLE COLON, SAYING: "This event was first seen by NASA's TESS satellite, so in the sense that TESS happened to be looking at the right part of the sky at the right time, so it caught the very beginning of this event. So it witnessed the black hole starting to shred its star and the way the measurement comes about is an increase in brightness and there were ground base observatories that had initially discovered this: the ASAS-SN survey and that was able to trigger an additional satellite, NASA's (Neil Gehrels) Swift Satellite, to look in ultraviolet and measure the temperature changes within this event. So altogether, you know, we are able to learn about drastic changes from the beginning of the event through days on after it started."
- Embargoed: 12th October 2019 00:36
- Keywords: NASA black hole space exploration
- Location: GREENBELT, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES / ANIMATION
- City: GREENBELT, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES / ANIMATION
- Country: USA
- Topics: Science,Space Exploration
- Reuters ID: LVA004AYFQ8G7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Scientists have captured a view of a colossal black hole violently ripping apart a doomed star, illustrating an extraordinary and chaotic cosmic event from beginning to end for the first time using NASA's planet-hunting telescope.
The U.S. space agency's orbiting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS, revealed the detailed timeline of a star 375 million light-years away warping and spiraling into the unrelenting gravitational pull of a supermassive black hole, researchers said on Thursday (September 26).
The star, roughly the same size as our sun, was eventually sucked into oblivion in a rare cosmic occurrence that astronomers call a tidal disruption event, they added.
Speaking to Reuters on Friday (September 27), NASA scientist Knicole Colon said the event involving a black hole violently ripping apart a doomed start was "rare."
"It's definitely an exciting time for people who study black holes. There is so much left to learn and, you know, at all wavelengths of light from optical ultraviolet, everything, every piece of information we can get our hands on for every single event is important, especially because, in this case too, this tidal disruption event, when a black hole shreds apart a star, that only happens every ten thousands to 100 thousand years or so it is relatively rare so any opportunity we have to study them we are using all our facilities, everything we can throw at it," she said.
Astronomers used an international network of telescopes to detect the phenomenon before turning to TESS, whose permanent viewing zones designed to hunt distant planets caught the beginning of the violent event, proving effective its unique method of surveilling the cosmos.
Such phenomena happen when a star ventures too close to a supermassive black hole, objects that reside at the center of most large galaxies including our Milky Way. The black hole's tremendous gravitational forces tear the star to shreds, with some of its material tossed into space and the rest plunging into the black hole, forming a disk of hot, bright gas as it is swallowed.
Observing the oscillation of light as the black hole gobbles the star and spews stellar material in an outward spiral could help astronomers understand the black hole's behavior, a scientific mystery since physicist Albert Einstein's work more than a century ago examined gravity's influence on light in motion.
(Production: Omar Younis)
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