Products You May Like
The jet of particles is known to have packed about 125billion times more energy than our sun and scientists observed the explosive event unfold over the course of a decade.
Study co-author Stuart Ryder of the Australian Astronomical Observatory said: “What we are seeing is the utter and complete destruction of a star, which was anywhere from two to seven times the mass of our Sun.”
Many galaxies, including our own, have giant black holes which are millions of times the mass of our Sun.
If a star finds itself too close to these enormous galactic bodies, the gravitational pull will rip it apart in what is called “tidal disruption event”.
During the black hole’s feast, the start became elongated and send out bright flares and gas in its last attempt to escape.
However, not all the star’s particles which fall are devoured by the black hole, and about half of the mass of the star gets ejected at a speed that approaches the speed of light, forming what are known as “relativistic jets.”
The discovery, published today in the Science journal, was not what the astronomers originally expected to find.
The first evidence that researchers found the powerful jet came in January 2005.
Seppo Mattila of the University of Turku in Finland and his colleagues were scanning a pair of colliding galaxies known as Arp 299, looking for signs of supernovae when they came across a bright outburst of infrared light coming for the heart of one of the colliding galaxies.
Mr Mattel said in a statement: “As time passed, the new object stayed bright at infrared and radio wavelengths, but not in visible light and X-rays.
“The most likely explanation is that thick interstellar gas and dust near the galaxy’s centre absorbed the X-rays and visible light, then re-radiated it as infrared.”
He added: “We continued to patiently collect more and more data to discern the true nature of this source, and our patience paid off.
“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.”
Study co-lead author Miguel Pérez-Torres of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia in Granada, Spain claimed “never before have we been able to directly observe the formation and evolution of a jet from one of these events”.
Astronomers hope their finding may help discover many new instances of black holes destroying stars.