Hubble Telescope records dying moments of a star being eaten by Supermassive black hole

The final moments of a star before being destroyed by a black hole have been recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope.

| Updated on: Jan 23 2023, 11:23 IST
6 STRANGEST massive black hole discoveries in 2022 that shook the world
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1/6 One of the most startling discoveries of 2022 was a massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Known as Sagittarius A*, a direct image of this massive space entity was taken by the Event Horizon Telescope. With around 4 times the mass of our Sun, it is believed that the black hole plays a key role in holding our galaxy together. (Photo courtesy: Nasa)
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2/6 Even as Sagittarius A* lies within our own galaxy, it is not the closest black hole to the Earth. That title goes to the cosmic matter eating void, lying 1,566 light years away from the Earth in the Ophiuchus constellation. It was discovered in November.  (NASA)
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3/6 But if a black hole in our cosmic backyard does not scare you, maybe this will. 2022 was also the year scientists discovered a rogue black hole wandering in space. This discovery is particularly of value since it was always believed that isolated black holes exist but it was never seen due to the difficulty in spotting them. Usually all the black holes we know of are part of a binary system, along with a neutron star. (NASA)
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4/6 A rare moment occurred in December 2022 when NASA spotted a black hole eating a passing star in a rare moment known as a tidal disruption event. It was believed that the star consumed by the black hole was similar to our Sun.    (AP)
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5/6 Even after decades of research and space exploration, we have still only observed just a few black holes in the universe. However, a study published this year has made some terrifying claims. Based on the number of stars spotted which are capable of turning into a black hole, and some number crunching on the potential number of stars that can exist, it was said that the universe currently contains 40 quintillion stellar-mass black holes. (AFP)
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6/6 Finally, the brightest black hole was also discovered this year. Known as J1144, this monstrous black hole is 500 times larger than Sagittarius A* and apparently it consumes matter worth the size of the Earth every second. Because of its consumption rate, it has created a massive accretion disk which makes it so bright. In fact, it can even be seen using a regular telescope. (NASA)
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The event could not be captured due to it being nearly 300 million light-years away. (NASA JPL)

A black hole is a place in space where the pull of gravity is so strong that nothing, including light, can escape. It is an extremely dense region of space formed by collapse of a giant star at the end of its life cycle. A supermassive Black Hole forms due to merging of black holes. The biggest black hole is a Supermassive black hole which resides in the center of galaxies and is capable of engulfing everything in its way. These black holes have masses that are more than 1 million suns together. Now, scientists have discovered a star actually being eaten by a supermassive black hole.

Scientists, using the Hubble Space Telescope have recorded the final moments of a star as it gets torn apart by a black hole at the center of the galaxy ESO 583-G004. The star's remains were pulled into a donut shape and the event has been termed as AT2022dsb. The event is known as Tidal Disruption where a star is torn apart by the immense gravitational pull of a black hole. Although the event could not be captured as the star was nearly 300 million light-years away, scientists can still study UV light emissions from the star through the light ranges of the elements that make up the star.

Peter Maksym, Center for Astrophysics, Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) said, "Typically, these events are hard to observe. You get maybe a few observations at the beginning of the disruption when it's really bright. Our program is different in that it is designed to look at a few tidal events over a year to see what happens.”

“We saw this early enough that we could observe it at these very intense black hole accretion stages. We saw the accretion rate drop as it turned to a trickle over time,” he added further.

The Hubble spectroscopic data are interpreted as coming from a very bright, hot, donut-shaped area of gas that was once the star. This area, known as a torus, is the size of the solar system and is swirling around a black hole in the middle.

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First Published Date: 23 Jan, 10:48 IST