Supermassive Black Hole Eats A Star, Burps Out High-Speed Plasma

Supermassive Black Hole Eats A Star, Burps Out High-Speed Plasma

An international team of astrophysicists have watched a supermassive black hole consume a star and eject high-speed plasma for the first time.

For all the research articles written about black holes, the truth is we rarely see them in their full destructive glory. But we're also paying more attention than ever before, meaning it's just a matter of time before catching a black hole mid-meal. Such an event has finally occurred, as researchers watched a supermassive black hole devour a star before belching out a flare of plasma moving at almost the speed of light.

"These events are extremely rare," John Hopkins fellow Sjoert van Velzen exlained. "It's the first time we see everything from the stellar destruction followed by the launch of a conical outflow, also called a jet, and we watched it unfold over several months."

Astrophysicists have believed that when black holes consume gas, plasma is ejected with enough force to escape the event horizon. The problem was this phenomenon had never been directly observed. That changed when Ohio State University first observed this star falling into a supermassive black hole in Dec. 2014. A team of researchers led by the University of Oxford in Great Britain's Rob Fender directed radio telescopes to capture the event, from orbital decay to its destruction. The team's results were published in the academic journal Science yesterday.

"The destruction of a star by a black hole is beautifully complicated, and far from understood," van Velzen continued. "From our observations, we learn the streams of stellar debris can organize and make a jet rather quickly, which is valuable input for constructing a complete theory of these events."

Source: Science, via Phys.org

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Not gonna lie, that sounds pretty awesome.

Then again, anything moving at almost the speed of light seems pretty cool to me. Except light. Lousy lattention hog.

Fanghawk:
A team of researchers led by the University of Oxford in Great Britain's Rob Fender

Rob Fender has a whole University inside him? Lucky fellow!

In all seriousness though, what an amazing and terrifying thing.

Theres been a slight correction the above is actually just a picture of OPs saturday night aftermath of Tequila shots and 3am tacobell.

Black holes: Nature's sloppiest eater. That plasma's moving at incredible speed. Some planet's about to get torched if it hasn't happened already. (Time differential and all that.)

And there we have it, the galaxy can indeed fart everyone!

Ok to be honest that is pretty cool to hear, interesting image as well I have to say

Since they watched it (at probably a 25x25 pixel resolution, hmph, no pretty pictures) then I wonder what the time scale was (a lot can sequentially happen over a "few months") and what percentage of the star has so far been consumed, how much has been flung away, and how much has yet to be consumed over an arbitrary time frame.

Gonna scour the links now.

Must have tasted too salty for that hole there...

Other than that, if only we could harness that plasma into a weapon of sorts... :p

Fanghawk:
Astrophysicists have believed that when black holes consume gas, plasma is ejected with enough force to escape the event horizon.

Not quite. Nothing escapes the event horizon. The plasma is ejected from an area very close to the event horizon. (It also says to in the original article.)

By exhaling that plasma cloud, a black hole generates thrust. Propulsion towards it's next meal.

You see, a black hole doesn't want to be fed. They want to hunt.

 

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