Supermassive black hole devours a star and blasts its remains to Earth

A supermassive black hole has engulfed a star, tearing it apart and uniquely ejecting a beam of light from its center.

In a scientific research report released Wednesday, astronomers say a previously unknown black hole was signaled to observers when a star passed too close and was eaten up.

Astronomers then observed an “afterglow” jet from the disaster, which experts call a tidal disturbance event (TDE), heading straight for Earth.

“The event began when an unfortunate star approached the supermassive black hole (SMBH) on an almost parabolic trajectory and was torn apart into a stream of gaseous debris,” reads the scientific paper published on the 30th. november. “About half the mass remained bound to the black hole, underwent a general relativistic apsidal precession as the gas fell back towards the pericenter, then produced strong jerks at the self-crossing point.”

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The scientists said the projected beam – AT2022cmc, or an “infrared/optical/ultraviolet light curve” – ​​was initially colored red before decaying into a blue tint over four days.

The astronomers added: “Optical and ultraviolet observations revealed a rapidly fading red ‘flare’ that quickly turned into a slow blue ‘plateau’, allowing the study of two components generated by the tidal disturbance: the relativistic jet and thermal component of bound stellar debris accumulating on the black hole.”

The blasted remains were so powerfully bright that astronomers detected the dwarf galaxy’s TDE a million light-years away.

The article adds: “Observations of a bright counterpart at other wavelengths, including X-ray, submillimeter and radio, support the interpretation of AT2022cmc as a jet TDE containing a synchrotron. “

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TDE was discovered in February 2022, before the science news journal received the article about it in April 2022, and the research was finally accepted in October 2022.

TDEs have already been observed, such as the AT 2020neh in June 2020.

The Herschel Space Observatory has shown that galaxies with the strongest and most active supermassive black holes produce fewer stars than galaxies with less active black holes.
(Universal History Archive/Universal Pictures Group via Getty Images)

Ryan J. Foley, co-author and astronomer at UC Santa Cruz, said this initial discovery will pave the way for astronomers to find other TDEs and new dwarf galaxies.

“This discovery has created widespread excitement because we can use tidal disturbance events not only to find more intermediate-mass black holes in silent dwarf galaxies, but also to measure their masses,” Foley said in a paper. scientist co-published Nov. 10.

The discovery spanned years of research as the distant galaxy was first observed in June 2020 and confirmed by data from the Young Supernova experiment. It was observed again from July 1, 2020 to July 17, 2020; then from August 5, 2020 to September 6, 2020.

“Over 24 months of YSE operations, we observed only one AT 2020neh type event, monitoring the fields for approximately 6 months each. This equates to one event per year in the YSE observation volume,” says the scientific article.

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These unique discoveries could lead to even more discoveries in distant galaxies that would otherwise be undetectable without the visible light of the explosion.

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