Supermassive Black Hole Keeps Consuming Star for a Decade

Black hole consuming star

Researchers discovered a black hole that has been devouring a star for over a decade and it is still not over

American astronomers have been witnessing a black hole devouring a star for an unusually long time. The entire process broke the record of lasting more than a decade and it is still not over.

The fact that it took so long for the black hole to dispense of the star and it is not done yet is indeed quite unheard of. Usually, black holes consume stars in a year or less. However, a team of scientists at the University of New Hampshire led by Dacheng Lin noticed that this particular black hole started consuming the star in 2005.

This remarkable phenomenon is taking place in the center of galaxy which is situated 1.8 billion light years away from Earth. The researchers called the black hole XJ1500+0154 and tracked it by using several orbital telescopes, including the well-known Chandra X-Ray Observatory of NASA.

When a black hole breaches and starts consuming a star, the intense gravity that surrounds it triggers what is known as a “tidal disruption event”. This event made possible the visualization of this ‘devouring’ process.

During this event, while the star gets sucked into the black hole, some remnants from it get flung outside. As the star gets deeper in the hole, the remains heat up to millions of degrees and generate an x-ray glowing. Also, NASA noticed that the black hole in question is supermassive.

Lin admitted that the demise of this star was indeed spectacular. He declared that several disruption events occurred in the 1990s, but he had never seen one which remained bright for such a long time.

Many other researchers have been captivated by this unusual event. James Guillochon, researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is baffled by the fact that the continuously growing black hole is swallowing a star which is twice the size of our sun.

They don’t know very well what is the purpose of this entire process, but they now have materials which will help them study the evolution of black holes. Thus, they discovered that black holes can expand at incredibly high rates. This could also help them understand how untimely black holes came to be.

The black hole in question is not even nearly over with consuming the star. Scientists speculated that it would continue devouring the star for several years to come.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons