October 1, 2023

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The fierce black hole devouring three times the Earth’s stars every time it passes

The fierce black hole devouring three times the Earth’s stars every time it passes

A Sun-like star, located in a galaxy about 500 million light-years away, is being eaten by a black hole, losing mass equivalent to three terrestrial planets with each close pass.

The massive explosion of X-rays discovered by astronomers at the University of Leicester suggests that matter three times the mass of Earth is burning up in… Black hole.

A star like our Sun in a nearby galaxy is gradually being eaten by a small but ravenous black hole, losing the mass equivalent to three terrestrial planets each time it passes by.

The discovery of astronomers at the University of Leicester was reported on September 7 in the magazine Nature astronomy It provides the “missing link” in our knowledge of black holes that disrupt the stars they orbit. It indicates that there is a whole population of stars in the process of being consumed that are still undiscovered.

The team received support from the UK Space Agency and the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Discovery details

Astronomers were alerted to the star’s impending doom by a bright X-ray flash that appears to be coming from the center of nearby galaxy 2MASX J02301709+2836050, about 500 million light-years away from the galaxy. milky way. The asteroid has been named Swift J0230, and was observed the moment it first occurred using a new instrument developed by scientists for the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory. They quickly scheduled more rapid observations of it, and found that instead of fading away as expected, it would shine brightly for 7 to 10 days and then suddenly turn off, repeating this process about every 25 days.

Swj0230 color

A visual image of the galaxy in which the new event occurred, taken from the archive Panstarrs data. The X-ray object is found somewhere inside the white circle, and is about the size of a pinhead at 100 metres. It also appears a two -year -old borrowed position. Credit: Daniele B. malisani/panstars

Connect the missing pieces

Similar behavior has been observed in so-called quasi-periodic explosions and periodic nuclear explosions, where the star has material that is torn apart by a black hole as its orbit approaches it, but they differ in the number of times they erupt, and in whether they explode or not. The explosion in X -rays or visual light is prevalent. The regularity of Swift J0230 emissions decreased between the two, indicating that it constitutes the “lost ring” between the two types of explosions.

Using proposed models of these two classes of events as a guide, scientists concluded that Swift J0230’s explosion represents a star similar in size to our Sun in an elliptical orbit around a low-mass black hole at the center of its galaxy. . When the star’s orbit approaches the black hole’s intense gravitational pull, matter equivalent to the mass of three terrestrial planets is extracted from the star’s atmosphere and heated as it falls into the black hole. Severe heat, about 2 million degrees CelsiusThe huge amount of X -ray that the Swift satellite has taken for the first time.

Swift J0230 before and after

Now you don’t see it, now you see it! X -ray pictures of the same location in the sky before (left) and after (right) the Swift eruption J0230. These images were taken by X -ray telescope on board the Swift satellite. Credit: Phil Evans (Leicester University) / NASA Swift

Expert visions

Lead author Dr Phil Evans, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leicester, said: “This is the first time we have seen a star like our Sun repeatedly being torn apart and consumed by a low-mass black hole. The so -called “repeated and partial and partial tidal disorder” is in itself a completely new discovery and it seems that they are divided into two types: those that erupt every few hours, and those that erupt every year or so. This new system is located directly in the gap between these elements, and when you turn on the numbers, you find that the types of organisms concerned are in their right place as well.

Dr. Rob Ilez Ferres, who works with Dr. Ivans on the Swift satellite, recently obtained a PhD at the University of Leicester, which included the study of stars disrupted by black holes. “In most of the systems we have seen in the past, the star has been completely destroyed,” he explains. Swift J0230 is an exciting addition to the partially troubled stars category because it shows us that the two categories that have already been found are already linked, as our new system gives us the lost link.

Neil Girls Swift Observatory

Illustration of Neil’s Girls Swift Observatory. Credit: NASA

Stay tuned for more discoveries

“Given that we found Swift J0230 within a few months of enabling our new transit hunting tool, we expect that there will be a lot of other things,” said Dr. Kim Big of the University of Leicester, who worked to analyze the study data. Things like this there, waiting to be revealed.

Dr. Chris Nixon is a theoretical astronomical physicist who recently moved from Leicester University to Leeds University. He led the theoretical interpretation of this event. His research is funded by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Leverrhmlm Fund.

The researchers estimate that the mass of the black hole is about 10,000 to 100,000 times the bloc of our sun, which is a very small percentage for the huge black holes that are usually found in galaxy centers. It is believed that the black hole in the center of our galaxy is 4 million solar masses, while most of them are located in an area of ​​100 million solar masses.

This is the first discovery that uses the new transit detector of the Swift satellite, which was developed by the Leicester University team and works on their computers. When an extremist event that causes an X -ray explosion in an area of ​​the sky was not found in which there were no X -rays before, astronomers call this transit astronomical X -ray. Despite the extremist events that vow in it, it is not easy to find these events, or at least not quickly – so this new tool has been developed to search for new types of transit in real time.

“This type of object was undesirable until we built this new facility, and after a short time we found this completely new event, which was unprecedented. Swift is approximately 20 years old, and he suddenly discovered completely new events that we did not know before. I think this shows that every time you find a new way to look at space, you are learning something new and discovering that something you did not know before.

International cooperation and future prospects

“This is another exciting discovery from Swift’s world leader – a low -block black hole receiving” bites “from a sun -like star whenever it revolves around it,” said Dr. Caroline Harper, head of the British Space Science Department. close enough.

“The British Space Agency works in partnership with NASA In this mission for many years; The UK led the development of devices for two major scientific tools and provided funding for the Swift Science Data Center, which we continue to support. We look forward to more ideas from Swift about gamma rays explosions throughout the universe, and the huge events that cause them, in the future.

To learn more about this discovery, see the NASA Swift Spies star, which is consumed a bite.

Reference: “Semi-periodic menstrual explosions resulting from the frequent stellar disorder due to a huge black hole” by PA Evans, CJ Nixon, S. Campana, P. chalampopoulos, Da Perley, AA BREVELD, KL Page, SR Oats, Raj Eyles-Ferris, D. P. Malisani, Liso, MR Jawad, BT Apranin, GB Osborn, B Sparovati, September 7, 2023, Nature astronomy.
doi: 10.1038/s41550-023-02073-j

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