Here’s what happened to a star that was swallowed up by a black hole

(ORDO NEWS) — In 2019, astronomers spotted a star being swallowed up by a black hole. Now they looked at this system again and traced what happened to the luminary.

We know that black holes regularly “eat” stars, but for the first time, scientists have been able to follow this process.

This tidal destruction of a sun-like star by a black hole 1 million times more massive than itself occurred 215 million light-years from Earth.

Luckily, it was the first such event bright enough for UC Berkeley astronomers to analyze the dying star’s radiation, specifically the light’s polarization, to learn more about what happened after the star was torn apart.

How a black hole tore apart a star

Observations by scientists on October 8, 2019 show that much of the star’s material was blown away at high speeds – up to 10,000 kilometers per second – and formed a spherical cloud of gas that blocked much of the high-energy emissions produced when the black hole consumed the rest of the star.

Earlier, other observations of optical radiation from the explosion showed that most of the star’s matter was thrown out by a powerful flow of matter.

But new data on the polarization of the light, which was virtually zero at visible or optical wavelengths, tell astronomers that the cloud was likely spherically symmetrical.

The results of the work provide an answer to the question why astronomers do not see high-energy radiation, such as X-rays, from many of the dozens of tidal disruption events observed so far.

This is because the X-rays, which are produced by material torn from the star and drawn into the accretion disk around the black hole, are hidden from view by the gas escaping due to the powerful winds around the black hole before falling inward.


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