Queen's scientists discover black hole ripping apart star
May 04, 2012
Astronomers from Queen's University Belfast have gathered the most direct evidence yet of a supermassive black hole shredding a star that wandered too close. The Queen's astronomers are part of the Pan-STARRS international team, whose discovery has been published in the journal Nature today (Wed, 2 May).
Supermassive black holes, weighing millions to billions times more than the Sun, lurk in the centers of most galaxies. These hefty monsters lie quietly until an unsuspecting 'victim', such as a star, wanders close enough to get ripped apart by their powerful gravitational clutches.
Using a slew of ground and space-based telescopes, a team of astronomers led by Suvi Gezari of The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has identified the victim in this case as a star rich in helium gas. The star resides in a galaxy 2.7 billion light-years away.
The observation yields insights about the harsh environment around black holes and the types of stars swirling around them.
Speaking about the discovery Professor Stephen Smartt of Queen's Astrophysics Research Centre in the School of Maths and Physics said: "Astronomers have spotted these stellar 'murders' before, but this is the first time they can identify the victim.
"What we're seeing is a star being shredded by a monster black-hole in the centre of this distant galaxy. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way has a black hole at its centre, about a million times the mass of the sun. We can see stars whizzing around our Milky Way black hole, but they are too far away from it to be captured.
"In this case a star got too close to the black hole and was sucked right in. We're seeing the star being shredded, heated and destroyed and as it swirls around the black hole. Suvi Gezari, team leader from John Hopkins University in Baltimore, alerted us to something unusual caught by the NASA spacecraft called GALEX, and as our computers sifted through terabytes of Pan-STARRS data, we found the tell-tale signature of the event. We knew it was something weird then."
To find this one event, the team monitored hundreds of thousands of galaxies in ultraviolet light with the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), a space-based observatory, and in visible light with the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the summit of Haleakala, in Hawaii. Pan-STARRS, short for Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, scans the entire night sky for all kinds of transient phenomena, including supernovae.
The team was looking for a bright flare in ultraviolet light from the nucleus of a galaxy with a previously dormant black hole. They found one in June 2010, which was spotted with both telescopes. Both telescopes continued to monitor the flare as it reached peak brightness a month later, and then slowly began to fade over the next 12 months. The brightening event was similar to that of a supernova, but the rise to the peak was much slower, taking nearly one and a half months.
Team leader, Suvi Gezari from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md. said: "This is the first time where we have so many pieces of evidence, and now we can put them all together to weigh the perpetrator (the black hole) and determine the identity of the unlucky star that fell victim to it. These observations also give us clues to what evidence to look for in the future to find this type of event."
Queen's University Belfast
Related Black Hole Current Events and Black Hole News ArticlesA Blast from Its Past Dates the Youngest Neutron-Star Binary
X-rays streaming toward Earth from the region near a neutron star that is cannibalizing its companion star have revealed the pair to be the youngest "X-ray binary" yet known.Fledgling supernova remnant reveals neutron star's secrets
With the help of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Australia Telescope Compact Array, an international team of astronomers has identified the glowing wreck of a star that exploded a mere 2,500 years ago - the blink of an eye in astronomical terms.Supernova Blast Provides Clues to Age of Binary Star System
Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed faint remnants of a supernova explosion and helped researchers determine Circinus X-1 -- an X-ray binary -- is the youngest of this class of astronomical objects found to date.Glimpsing the Infrastructure of a Gamma-ray Burst Jet
A new study using observations from a novel instrument provides the best look to date at magnetic fields at the heart of gamma-ray bursts, the most energetic explosions in the universe. An international team of astronomers from Britain, Slovenia and Italy has glimpsed the infrastructure of a burst's high-speed jet.'Spooky action' builds a wormhole between 'entangled' particles
Quantum entanglement, a perplexing phenomenon of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein once referred to as "spooky action at a distance," could be even spookier than Einstein perceived.Evidence of jet of high-energy particles from Milky Way's black hole found by astronomers
For decades, astronomers have sought strong evidence that the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy is producing a jet of high-energy particles. Based on new results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array radio telescope, they now have it. Black hole jets pack a powerful punch
Black-hole jets recycle matter and energy into space and can affect when and where a galaxy forms stars.Black hole birth captured by cosmic voyeurs
Intelligent telescopes designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory got a front row seat recently for an unusual birth.Searching for Cosmic Accelerators Via IceCube
In our universe there are particle accelerators 40 million times more powerful than the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.NASA Sees 'Watershed' Cosmic Blast in Unique Detail
On April 27, a blast of light from a dying star in a distant galaxy became the focus of astronomers around the world. The explosion, known as a gamma-ray burst and designated GRB 130427A, tops the charts as one of the brightest ever seen.
More Black Hole Current Events and Black Hole News Articles
by Charles Burns (Author)
Winner of the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards
The setting: suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.
As we inhabit the heads of several key characters — some kids who have it, some who don’t, some who are about to get it — what unfolds isn’t the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness to it , or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery,...
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole|
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano (Author), Michael Carroll (Illustrator)
If a black hole is not a hole, then what is it? Find out what black holes are, what causes them, and how scientists first discovered them. Learn how astronomers find black holes, get to know our nearest black-hole neighbor, and take a journey that will literally s-t-r-e-t-c-h the mind.
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries|
by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Author)
A vibrant collection of essays on the cosmos from the nation's best-known astrophysicist. “One of today’s best popularizers of science.”—Kirkus Reviews.Loyal readers of the monthly "Universe" essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson's talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with stunning clarity and almost childlike enthusiasm. Here, Tyson compiles his favorite essays across a myriad of cosmic topics. The title essay introduces readers to the physics of black holes by explaining the gory details of what would happen to your body if you fell into one. "Holy Wars" examines the needless friction between science and religion in the context of historical conflicts. "The Search for Life in the Universe" explores astral life from...
Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program)|
by Kip S. Thorne (Author), Stephen Hawking (Foreword)
Ever since Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity burst upon the world in 1915 some of the most brilliant minds of our century have sought to decipher the mysteries bequeathed by that theory, a legacy so unthinkable in some respects that even Einstein himself rejected them.Which of these bizarre phenomena, if any, can really exist in our universe? Black holes, down which anything can fall but from which nothing can return; wormholes, short spacewarps connecting regions of the cosmos; singularities, where space and time are so violently warped that time ceases to exist and space becomes a kind of foam; gravitational waves, which carry symphonic accounts of collisions of black holes billions of years ago; and time machines, for traveling backward and forward in time.
Black Holes! Learn About Black Holes and Enjoy Colorful Pictures - Look and Learn! (50+ Photos of Black Holes)|
Are your kids interested in Black Holes? Awesome! You have found the right book. Help your children learn more about Black Holes today by reading this book.
Here is what is included inside "Black Holes! Learn About Black Holes and Enjoy Colorful Pictures – Look and Learn!"...
Rogue Black Holes
Black Hole Images
Black Hole Facts
Supermassive Black Holes
Black Hole Structures
Fun Black Hole Facts
And Lots More!
Includes over 50 high quality photos of Black Holes!
Other bonuses inside "Black Holes! Learn About Black Holes and Enjoy Colorful Pictures – Look and Learn!"...
This book has photos of Black Holes.
This book has info on Black...
The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics|
by Leonard Susskind (Author)
At the beginning of the 21st century, physics is being driven to very unfamiliar territory--the domain of the incredibly small and the incredibly heavy. The new world is a world in which both quantum mechanics and gravity are equally important. But mysteries remain. One of the biggest involved black holes. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking claimed that anything sucked in a black hole was lost forever. For three decades, Leonard Susskind and Hawking clashed over the answer to this problem. Finally, in 2004, Hawking conceded.
THE BLACK HOLE WAR will explain the mind-blowing science that finally won out, and the emergence of a new paradigm that argues the world--this catalog, your home, your breakfast, you--is actually a hologram projected from the edges of...
Black Holes (True Books: Space)|
by Ker Than (Author)
Book Details:Format: PaperbackPublication Date: 3/1/2010Pages: 48Reading Level: Age 7 and Up
Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays|
by Stephen W. Hawking (Author)
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
THIRTEEN EXTRAORDINARY ESSAYS SHED NEW LIGHT ON THE MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE—AND ON ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT THINKERS OF OUR TIME.
In his phenomenal bestseller A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking literally transformed the way we think about physics, the universe, reality itself. In these thirteen essays and one remarkable extended interview, the man widely regarded as the most brilliant theoretical physicist since Einstein returns to reveal an amazing array of possibilities for understanding our universe.
Building on his earlier work, Hawking discusses imaginary time, how black holes can give birth to baby universes, and scientists’ efforts to find a complete unified theory that would predict everything in the universe. With his...
Black Holes: And Other Bizarre Space Objects (Science Frontiers)|
by David Jefferis (Author)
Book Details:Format: PaperbackPublication Date: 3/1/2006Pages: 32Reading Level: Age 9 and Up
Black Hole Cafe #1|
by Tony Foster
Black Hole Cafe centers around Simon, an ex-assassin with the ability to shift between alternate realties. After receiving a vision of the multiverse collapsing in on itself, Simon travels to the Black Hole Cafe. He hopes to solicit the help of his closest friend Ethan, a man who has the magical ability to turn into a rabbit warrior named Kole. Together they set out to find the source of the vision, and stop the impending apocalypse.