For the first time in history the astronomers have been able to observe how a star totally disappeared into a supermassive black hole. The star was about the size of our Sun when it was completely ripped apart and swallowed into antimatter.
The scientists observed the whole process in detail, watching how the star has been ripped apart into pieces. Before disappearing, its remains formed a disk of debris around its supermassive killer. Plasma jets made out of the star’s not swallowed remains were shot into the Universe almost at the speed of light.
This supermassive black hole, which is at least a million times the size of the Sun, is at about 300 million light-years from Earth. It has been named ASASSN-14Li. It is believed that supermassive black holes exist at the center of all massive galaxies. The scientists argue that this particular black hole is a small sized supermassive black hole, compared to others from the same class.
Until now, black holes have been seen absorbing giant gas clouds, which produced similar jets but this is a really slow process that could take millions of years. What the scientists witnessed now is absolutely amazing – the star has been completely swallowed in just a few weeks.
A team of 14 scientists from the US, Britain, Australia and the Netherlands, led by a scientist from the John Hopkins University analyzed the data and explained all of it in a research paper. The study has been published in Science Journal on November 26.
The discovery of this event has important implications for science. It proves that what until now has been known only in theory about black holes’ feeding process actually happen in reality. The feeding frenzy has been observed and afterwards studied using X-ray, radio and optical telescopes.
The event has been discovered with the help of optical telescopes that were surveying the sky looking for supernovas. The jests were afterwards seen with radio telescopes, 20 days after its detection. Scientists claim that these jets are producing a lot more energy than our Sun in 10 million years.
In their study, the scientists explain that a star can be sucked into a supermassive black hole by being pulled by its enormous gravitational force. Black holes are super-dense areas of space with an irresistible gravitational force that prevents matter, gas and light from escaping, by creating a perfect void.
However, the astrophysicists argue that the complete process of supermassive black holes’ is far from being completely understood.
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