Black Holes 100X More Destructive Than Previously Thought
Stellar cannibalism or tidal disruptive events (TDEs) are rare cosmic events that come once at every 10,000 to 100,000 ratio. At least, that is what scientists used to believe until it is not the case anymore.
A study published in Nature: Astronomy on Feb. 27 found that massive black holes actually eat stars as often as 100 times more often than originally thought. They discovered a star being ripped apart by a study composed of 15 galaxies -- a small sample size as far as astronomers are concerned.
TDEs usually happen when stars are pulled apart by the black hole tidal forces, occuring as stars make a close approach to a black hole while in orbit. According to the study, each small sample of galaxies showed a form of "cosmic collision" with a galaxy nearby. The number of TDEs then increased as galaxies collide or merge -- events that, in turn, likely lead to the formation of stars near the center of the black holes of the galaxies as they merge.
Scientists were said to have found their first colliding galaxy in a sample from 2005. But when they observed them again 10 years later, they noticed that one galaxy appeared strikingly different compared to the first time. With the help of a celestial survey, however, they found that the luminosity from the galaxy increased in 2010. This kind of change in brightness was typically associated as a characterization of TDEs.
Of course, as Tech Times noted, supermassive black holes are very hard to find. Their gravity is so strong that nothing can escape -- including light itself. The same TDEs can also be possible in our own Milky Way galaxy, as it is expected to merge with Andromeda 5 billion years from now.
While humans do not have to worry about the end of the world, Clive Tadhunter, lead author of the study, noted that TDEs could become more frequent, at a ratio approximately one in every 10 to 100 years.