The Black Hole That Swallows A Star Finally Explodes

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The Black Hole That Swallows A Star Finally Explodes

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Astronomers have found the first hard evidence of a rare double-universe cannibalism, in which stars engulf compact objects like black holes and neutron stars. This object then devoured the star’s core, causing an explosion, leaving only a black hole.

The first clue to this terrifying event, described in Science on September 3, comes from his Very Large Array (VLA), a radio telescope composed of 27 giant dishes in the New Mexico desert near Socorro. ). When the observatory scanned the night sky in 2017, a burst of radio energy appeared in a dwarf galaxy about 500 million light years away. It was as bright as the brightest exploding star, or supernova, seen from Earth. “We were like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting,'” said Dillon Don, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology.

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He and his colleagues work at the VLA and W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, which we see in the same light as our eyes. The Keck telescope captured streams of material flowing in all directions from a central location at speeds of 3.2 million kilometers per hour.

The team then discovered a very bright X-ray source in archival data from the All Sky X-ray Imaging Monitor (MAXI) telescope, a Japanese instrument on the International Space Station. This X-ray burst of his was in the same location as the radio burst, but was observed in 2014. Summarizing the data, Dong and his colleagues believe that the following happened. A long time ago, a pair of binary stars were born that orbited each other. One died in a spectacular supernova, becoming either a neutron star or a black hole. Gravity brought the two bodies so close together that the dead star actually entered the outer layers of its larger stellar sibling.

Compact objects rotate within living stars for hundreds of years, eventually invading their partner’s core and consuming it. A shell of matter was formed around the

At the heart of a living star, gravitational and complex magnetic interactions from eating a dead star unleash a giant jet of energy, recorded as his X-ray flash in 2014, causing the larger star to explode. I was. Debris from the explosion collided with the surrounding material envelope at breakneck speed, creating optical and radio beacons.

Theorists have previously proposed such a scenario, called a fusion-induced core-collapse supernova, but this appears to be the first direct observation of the phenomenon, Dong says.

“They did a pretty good job of looking at these observations,” says Adam Burrows, an astrophysicist at Princeton University who wasn’t involved in the study. He says the results should help limit the timing of one star’s encroachment on another, a process called coenveloping evolution. Such stages of stellar life are relatively short-lived in cosmic time and difficult to both observe and simulate. In most cases, the enveloping partner dies before its core is consumed, and her two compact celestial bodies, such as white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes, orbit each other.

The final stage of these systems is exactly what observatories such as the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and his LIGO detect when they catch space-time waves, says Don (SN:8/4 /twenty one). Now that astronomers know how to look for these multiple pieces of evidence, he hopes to find more examples of this strange phenomenon.


D. Dong et alA transient radio source consistent with a merger-triggered core collapse supernovaScience. Vol. 373, September 3, 2021, p. 1125. doi: 10.1126/science.abg6037.

N. Ivanova et alCommon envelope evolution: where we stand and how we can move forwardThe Astronomy and Astrophysics Review. Vol 21, November 2013. doi: 10.1007/s00159-013-0059-2.

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