Star Swallowed By A Black Hole: New Ways To Observe It Discovered, Could Fully Understand The Star's Destruction

Elaine Hannah
First Posted: Sep 21, 2016 01:57 AM EDT

Black holes eating stars is called by astronomers as "stellar tidal disruption." Once the stars were destroyed, a huge amount of energy is released and brightened the surroundings called the flare. Astronomers have found new ways to capture this cosmic phenomenon.

The findings of the study were published in Astrophysical Journal. It was led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, according to Science Daily.

In the study, the researchers used two methods namely through infrared observations and using galaxy dust to reflect the so-called tidal disruption flare, which is the electromagnetic energy spurt by a star swallowed by a black hole. With this method, the scientists can gauge the energy of flares from stellar tidal disruption events more. Sjoert van Velzen, the lead author of the study and the postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University said that this is the first time they have clearly seen the infrared light echoes from multiple disruption events.

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According to NASA, the flares from black holes once they devoured stars has high-energy radiation that includes X-ray and ultraviolet light. These flares terminate any dust surrounding the black hole. On the other hand, those at distant from a black hole can survive. The surviving dust gives off infrared radiation once heated by a flare.

The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) gauges the infrared emission from the dust that is near a black hole. This also provides hints about the nature of the dust and tidal disruption flares. The researchers also used the images gathered by WISE telescope. Varoujan Gorjian, a co-author of the study and astronomer from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that their study confirms that the dust is there and that they can use it to determine how much energy was generated in the destruction of the star.

Meanwhile, Velzen explained that a measurement of the total energy is very significant. He further explained that without this they have an incomplete picture of what happens during a stellar tidal disruption. It is needed to understand if the star was fully destroyed or a black hole just ate a piece of the star.



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