Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

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 Articles


Lopsided star explosion holds the key to other supernova mysteries
New observations of a recently exploded star are confirming supercomputer model predictions made at Caltech that the deaths of stellar giants are lopsided affairs in which debris and the stars' cores hurtle off in opposite directions.

Strange supernova is 'missing link' in gamma-ray burst connection
Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Very Large Array (VLA) have found a long-sought "missing link" between supernova explosions that generate gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and those that don't.

Astronomers find runaway galaxies
We know of about two dozen runaway stars, and have even found one runaway star cluster escaping its galaxy forever. Now, astronomers have spotted 11 runaway galaxies that have been flung out of their homes to wander the void of intergalactic space.

Dartmouth-led black hole hunters tackle a cosmic conundrum
Dartmouth astrophysicists and their colleagues have not only proven that a supermassive black hole exists in a place where it isn't supposed to be, but in doing so have opened a new door to what things were like in the early universe.

Pulsing light may indicate supermassive black hole merger
As two galaxies enter the final stages of merging, scientists have theorized that the galaxies' supermassive black holes will form a "binary," or two black holes in such close orbit they are gravitationally bound to one another.

Flip-flopping black holes spin to the end of the dance
When black holes tango, one massive partner spins head over heels (or in this case heels over head) until the merger is complete, said researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology in a paper published in Physical Review Letters.

Hubble finds ghosts of quasars past
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has imaged a set of enigmatic quasar ghosts -- ethereal green objects which mark the graves of these objects that flickered to life and then faded.

Black holes don't erase information, scientists say
Shred a document, and you can piece it back together. Burn a book, and you could theoretically do the same. But send information into a black hole, and it's lost forever.

Hubble finds phantom objects near dead quasars
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has photographed a set of wispy, goblin-green objects that are the ephemeral ghosts of quasars that flickered to life and then faded.

Why isn't the universe as bright as it should be?
A handful of new stars are born each year in the Milky Way, while many more blink on across the universe.
More Black Hole Current Events and Black Hole News Articles

Black Hole

Black Hole
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,...

Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled On by Hawking Became Loved

Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein, and Gambled On by Hawking Became Loved
by Marcia Bartusiak (Author)


For more than half a century, physicists and astronomers engaged in heated dispute over the possibility of black holes in the universe. The weirdly alien notion of a space-time abyss from which nothing escapes—not even light—seemed to confound all logic. This engrossing book tells the story of the fierce black hole debates and the contributions of Einstein and Hawking and other leading thinkers who completely altered our view of the universe.

Renowned science writer Marcia Bartusiak shows how the black hole helped revive Einstein’s greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity, after decades during which it had been pushed into the shadows. Not until astronomers discovered such surprising new phenomena as neutron stars and black holes did the once-sedate universe...

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries
by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Author)


“[Tyson] tackles a great range of subjects . . . with great humor, humility, and―most important― humanity.” ―Entertainment Weekly 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 clarity and enthusiasm. Bringing together more than forty of Tyson's favorite essays, ?Death by Black Hole? explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from what it would be like to be inside a black hole to the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its night skies right. One of America's best-known astrophysicists, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies the complexities of astrophysics while sharing his infectious fascination for our...

Black Holes (True Books)

Black Holes (True Books)
by Ker Than (Author)




Book Details:Format: PaperbackPublication Date: 3/1/2010Pages: 48Reading Level: Age 7 and Up

Black Holes: Everything You Need to Know About Black Holes and Black Hole Physics (space exploration, space, astronomy, Cosmology)

Black Holes: Everything You Need to Know About Black Holes and Black Hole Physics (space exploration, space, astronomy, Cosmology)



Everything you Need to Know about Black Holes and Black Hole Physics!

Black Holes have been, and are still to this day, one of the great mysteries of cosmology. They have inspired the imaginations of generations when looking out into space and have been the focus of astronomy for years. Today, much is known about black hole physics and the characteristics of these great beasts of space. This book will bring you up to speed with what we know today about black holes.


Here Is A Preview Of What You'll Learn...Black Hole FundamentalsBlack Hole HistoryBlack Hole FormationBlack Hole AnatomyEvent HorizonSpace and TimeEntering a Black HoleCosmology and AstronomySchwarzschild RadiusPrimordial Black HoleSupermassive Black HoleStellar Black HoleSingularityPhoton...

Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program)

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 Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives

Black Hole Focus: How Intelligent People Can Create a Powerful Purpose for Their Lives
by Isaiah Hankel (Author)


"...an absurdly motivating book." –A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author Don’t get stuck on a career path you have no passion for. Don’t waste your intelligence on something that doesn’t really mean anything more to you than a paycheck. Let Isaiah Hankel help you define a focus so powerful that everything in your life will be pulled towards it. Create your purpose and change your life. Be focused. Be fulfilled. Be successful. Black Hole Focus has been endorsed by top names in business, entrepreneurship, and academia, including 4 times New York Times bestseller AJ Jacobs and Harvard Medical School Postdoc Director Dr. Jim Gould. The book is broken up into 3 different sections; the first section shows you why you need a purpose in life, the second section shows you how to...

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole
by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano (Author), Michael Carroll (Illustrator)


Get ready to S-T-R-E-T-C-H your mind!

What is a black hole? Where do they come from? How were they discovered? Can we visit one? Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano takes readers on a ride through the galaxies (ours, and others), answering these questions and many more about the phenomenon known as a black hole.

In lively and often humorous text, the book starts off with a thorough explanation of gravity and the role it plays in the formation of black holes. Paintings by Michael Carroll, coupled with real telescopic images, help readers visualize the facts and ideas presented in the text, such as how light bends, and what a supernova looks like.

A BLACK HOLE IS NOT A HOLE is an excellent introduction to an extremely complex scientific concept. Back matter includes a timeline...

The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World Safe for Quantum Mechanics

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 and Baby Universes and Other Essays

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...

© 2015 BrightSurf.com