A black hole swallowed a star decades ago, but radio waves gave it away

(ORDO NEWS) — At the center of every galaxy, including our own Milky Way, lies a massive black hole that gravitationally affects all nearby stars.

Usually stars quietly move in orbits around the black hole, but if by chance one of the stars comes too close, then the black hole “eats” it, and astrophysicists describe this process as “spaghettification”.

“The gravity around the black hole rips the ‘hapless’ star apart, causing it to turn into thin streams, ‘spaghetti’, that fall on the black hole,” said lead author of the new study, Vikram Ravi, assistant professor of astronomy at California Institute of Technology. – This is a very chaotic process! The star cannot be “eaten” unnoticed! ”

After a star is absorbed, its remnants orbit the black hole and glow in a way that can be detected with telescopes. In some cases, the remains of a star are thrown outward in the form of powerful radio jets.

Ravi and his team in a new work discovered one of these events, the so-called “tidal rupture event”, using the archive of observations made with the help of radio observatories. Of the approximately 100 tidal rupture events detected to date, this event is only the second recorded in the radio range.

By combining the collected data with data collected by another team that also independently discovered this tidal rip event, Ravi’s team was able to figure out that this new event occurred when a supermassive black hole lies in the center of a galaxy about 500 million light-years away. absorbed a star and emitted a radiojet moving at the speed of light.

“This is the first discovery of a possible tidal rupture event in a relatively nearby part of the Universe, and it demonstrates that bright radio-frequency tidal rupture events may occur in the Universe more often than we expected,” Ravi said.

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