Astronomers observe star as being ‘spaghettified’ by supermassive black hole

Impression of an artist undergoing a spagotification near a supermassive black hole.

Artist’s impression of a star undergoing spagotification near a supermassive black hole.
The image: ESO

215 million light years away is skewed by a supermassive black hole, the closest observation to the date of stellar spaghettification.

Spaghettification does not sound very scientific, but it is a fairly accurate description of what actually happens.

A submerged star orbiting a supermassive black hole will eventually collide with a kind of gravity that will rip off everything. No longer able to maintain its physical integrity, the star begins to rapidly degrade in a process known as a rapidly evolving tidal dissolution event. When this happens, stellar debris moves out of the star, creating a long, thin stream, half of which turns towards the black hole; The other half was blown back into space. The thin section eventually takes hold and slips into itself, releasing energy and forming an accretion disk. If it’s hard to imagine, here’s a Video showing the process:

The destruction produces a bright glow of light, which astronomers can see on Earth. Some of these incidents are caught every year, but new The research The monthly case of the Royal Astronomical Society describes the closest case of stellar spagification, which is 215 million light years away. The event, christened AT2019qiz, was chronicled last year, and appeared at the core of a spiral galaxy located in the Eridenus planetarium. The unfortunate star was almost the same size as our Sun, and it was torn by a massive black hole about 1 million times more than the mass of the Sun.

The incident was initially put on hold by the Zwicky Transient Facility, with follow-up with other facilities with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, ESO New Technology Telescope, and Harvard & Smithsonian’s MMT Observatory. Astronomers tracked the fading flare for six months. The new paper was led by Matt Nicholl, a research fellow at the University of Birmingham.

Spaghettified stars are difficult to study because they are often abundant clouds of dust and debris. Thankfully, that was not the case with the AT2019qiz.

Researchers found that, “When a black hole destroys a star, it can physically create a powerful explosion on the outside, disrupting our view,” by Samantha Oates, an astronomer at the University of Birmingham Told in an ESO. Statement. However, in this case, the AT2019qiz was spotted soon after the star burst, providing a clear view of the incident.

“Because we caught it early, we could actually see the curtain of dust and debris as the black hole launched a powerful outflow of material with velocity up to 10,000 kilometers / second. [6,200 miles/second], “Said study co-author and Northwestern University astronomer Kate Alexander at a Harvard and Smithsonian Press release. “This is a unique ‘peek’ behind the curtain that provides the first opportunity to pinpoint the origin of obscure material and follow in real time how it affects the black hole.”

This allowed scientists to detect the outflow of gas as the star exploded to spin and as its stellar material moved toward the black hole. This phenomenon, which was captured in optical, X-ray, ultraviolet and radio spectra, will now provide an excellent case study for the ways in which matter behaves around supermassive black holes.


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