June 26, 2022
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See what happens when a black hole eats a star

Have you ever thought about what happens when a file Black hole Draw a star in it? You might have imagined that the poor star would disappear without a trace, right? It turns out that when a black hole engulfs such a large star, it actually produces what astronomers call a “tidal perturbation event” – a massive explosion of radiation capable of blocking the light of all the stars in the host galaxy. A black hole for several months or even years.

The illustration shows the glow from a star that has been engulfed by a black hole (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

A team of astronomers led by Sixiang Wen, PhD from the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona (US), published an article in the journal. Astrophysical Journal about one of these events. They used X-rays emitted from a tidal disturbance known as J2150 to measure the mass and rotation of an intermediate-mass black hole. It has a low mass relative to a black hole: “only” 10,000 times the mass of the Sun.

Ann Zablodoff, a professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona and co-author of the article, explained in a university press release that by analyzing the eruption, the team was able to better understand intermediate-mass black holes — less studied than supermassive — that, according to the scientist, “may be responsible.” Most of the black holes are at the center of galaxies.

Why is the study of these events important?

Although dozens of tidal turbulence events have been seen in the centers of large galaxies containing supermassive black holes — equal to or larger than our own Milky Way — previous data has not been detailed enough to establish the possibility of a tidal disturbance flare. Tide fed by an intermediate black hole.

“We still know very little about the existence of black holes at the center of galaxies smaller than the Milky Way,” co-author Peter Juncker of Radboud University in the Netherlands said in the same statement. “Due to observational limitations, it is difficult to detect central black holes much smaller than a million solar masses,” the scientist explained.

Since the origins of supermassive black holes are still unknown, intermediate-mass black holes may have been where they originated. “So if we can get a better handle on how many average black holes there are, it could help determine the correct theories for supermassive black holes,” Juncker said.

Measurement yarn – The black hole’s rotation rate – made in the study allows astrophysicists to test hypotheses about the nature of dark matter, which is believed to be most of the matter in the universe. “If these particles were present and had masses in a certain range, it would prevent a medium-mass black hole from spinning rapidly,” he explained. But J2150’s black hole is spinning fast. Now, scientists need to understand how and why.

In the future, new observations of tidal turbulence bursts may allow to fill in the gaps in the mass distribution of black holes. To this end, astronomers have high hopes for new online telescopes, both on Earth and in space, such as the Survey of Space and Time Legacy (LSST), which upon launch is expected to detect thousands of tidal disturbance events around the world. . general.

“If we find that most dwarf galaxies contain intermediate-mass black holes, they will dominate the rate of stellar tidal disruption,” said Nicholas Stone, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel), in a press release.

Article – Commodity Astrophysical Journal: doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/ac00b5