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A Giant Black Hole Devours A Star For Over A Decade

First Posted: Feb 07, 2017 05:23 AM EST

Scientists detected and examined a giant black hole that gobbles a star for more than a decade. The black hole feeding is over 10 times longer than any other phenomenon of the death of the star.

The findings of the study were printed in the Nature Astronomy journal on Feb. 6, 2017. The study was led by researchers at the University of New Hampshire, according to Phys.org.

Dacheng Lin, the lead author of the study and a research scientist at UNH's Space Science Center, said that they have witnessed a star's spectacular and prolonged demise. He further said that dozens of these so-called tidal disruption events have been detected since the 1990s, but none that remained bright for nearly as long as this one.

The team used the data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Swift Satellite and ESA's XMM-Newton. They discovered evidence of a massive "tidal disruption event" (TDE). This phenomenon could destroy an object like a star that approaches closely from the black hole. This is because of the powerful gravity gradient of the black hole.

The X-ray data also show that the radiation from material around this giant black hole has steadily exceeded the Eddington limit, which is defined by a balance between the outward pressure of radiation from the hot gas and the inward pull of the gravity of the black hole. Meanwhile, James Guillochon, a co-author of the study from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said that for most of the time they have been looking at this object and it has been growing rapidly. He further said that this tells us something unusual -- like a star twice as heavy as the Sun -- is being fed into the black hole, as noted by CBC.

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