Tags: black hole | decade

Black Hole's Decade-Long Feeding Frenzy Sucks Down Star

Image: Black Hole's Decade-Long Feeding Frenzy Sucks Down Star

Black hole named Cygnus X-1 pulls matter from adjacent blue star. (NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 10:19 AM

A black hole's decade-long feeding frenzy on a star almost billion light years from Earth has been going on 10 times longer than any other known episode, according to researchers who keep track of space phenomena.

The location of the hungry black hole, known by its abbreviated name of XJ1500+0154, is in a small galaxy, a new University of New Hampshire study. The data from a trio of orbiting x-ray telescopes – NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Swift Satellite, and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton – discovered evidence of a massive "tidal disruption event."

"Tidal forces, due to the intense gravity from the black hole, can destroy an object — such as a star — that wanders too close," said the study. "During a (tidal disruption event), some of the stellar debris is flung outward at high speeds, while the rest falls toward the black hole. As it travels inward and is ingested by the black hole, the material heats up to millions of degrees and generates a distinct x-ray flare."

According to The Guardian, the x-rays surprised researchers in another area.

"For most of the time we've been looking at this object it has been growing rapidly," said James Guillochon, co-author of the study who is with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "This tells us something unusual – like a star twice as heavy as our Sun – is being fed into the black hole."

The research about the black hole is detailed in the Feb. 6 issue of Nature Astronomy. Dacheng Lin, a research scientist at the Space Science Center in the University of New Hampshire's Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, was the lead author of the study

"We have witnessed a star's spectacular and prolonged demise," he said. "Dozens of these so-called tidal disruption events have been detected since the 1990s, but none that remained bright for nearly as long as this one. We have witnessed a star's spectacular and prolonged demise."

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A black hole's decade-long feeding frenzy on a star almost billion light years from Earth has been going on 10 times longer than any other known episode, according to researchers who keep track of space phenomena.
black hole, decade
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2017-19-07
Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 10:19 AM
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