Astronomers Spot Black Hole Devouring a Star

artist impression of the surroundings of a supermassive black holeInternationalIndiaAfricaThe tidal disruption event is the closest to be discovered to date.Astronomers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have detected a rare space phenomenon that occurs when a supermassive black hole consumes a star. The event occurred in galaxy NGC 7392 located about 137 million light-years away.The so-called tidal disruption events (TDE), of which about a hundred have been observed by astronomers to date, become visible as a burst of light is emitted when a black hole expels a vast quantity of radiation while feasting upon stellar matter.According to a press release by MIT, the TDE spotted in the NGC 7392 galaxy, designated as WTP14adbjsh, became the closest such event to be discovered so far.While TDEs usually stand out on the optic and X-ray spectrum, due to the nature of the radiation emitted in the process, WTP14adbjsh was instead visible on infrared due to the fact that the light produced by a star’s demise being absorbed by space dust that gave off the heat that the astronomers detected.Scientists Get Front Row Viewing of Black Hole Devouring Mysterious Gas Cloud25 February, 00:46 GMTThe press release also pointed out that WTP14adbjsh occurred in an active, star-forming galaxy, with few such TDEs being observed so far, with this find potentially suggesting that a search in the infra-red band might reveal more TDEs in such galaxies.“Finding this nearby TDE means that, statistically, there must be a large population of these events that traditional methods were blind to,” said Christos Panagiotou, a postdoc in MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “So, we should try to find these in infrared if we want a complete picture of black holes and their host galaxies.”


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