Sunday, December 11, 2022

A star being squeezed like a toothpaste tube by a supermassive black hole generated a mysteriously brilliant flash that emitted more light than 1,000 TRILLION suns

According to research, a mysteriously brilliant light in the sky was created by a supermassive black hole "squeezing like a toothpaste tube" a faraway star.

When astronomers at the Zwicky Transient Facility in California discovered a flash in February that produced more light than a trillion suns, they were perplexed.

A tidal disruption event (TDE), in which a star travels a bit too near to a black hole and is torn apart by its gravitational pull, is now the cause of the light, according to the research team.

It is the brightest TDE ever seen from Earth and is being termed one of the most violent occurrences in the cosmos, with temperatures exceeding 54,000°F (30,000°C).

The event, AT2022cmc, was the furthest TDE ever discovered and took place more than eight billion light-years distant, or more than halfway across the universe.

Its data collection might provide fresh insight into the growth and nutrient requirements of supermassive black holes.

A "jetted TDE," or flash of light, was initially seen during a regular all-sky scan and was later determined to be the source of the flash.

After the star was obliterated, a stream of stuff that extended along the black hole's axis of spin shot out of it at a speed that was almost as fast as light.

The X-ray energy that was released by this was absorbed by the black hole's surrounding dust and then reemitted as infrared radiation, radio waves, and visible light.


Despite being so far away from us, the jet's remarkable brightness and orientation towards Earth enabled equipment all across the globe to catch it in incredible detail.

These included the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in Chile and the Liverpool Telescope in Spain.

We have only seen a small number of these jetted-TDEs, and they continue to be highly exotic and poorly understood phenomena, according to Nial Tanvir from the University of Leicester, who worked on the research.

After the star was obliterated, a stream of stuff that extended along the black hole's axis of spin shot out of it at a speed that was almost as fast as light. This produced X-ray radiation, which was absorbed by the black hole's surrounding dust and then released again as infrared radiation, radio waves, and visible light.

A co-author from Liverpool John Moores University, Dr. Daniel Perley, called AT2022cmc a sort of TDE that was "exceptional" and "didn't appear to fit any known type of heavenly source."

The majority of explosions are either considerably quicker, much slower, or much bluer in color than the statistics would suggest, he said.

The star is often torn apart by strong gravitational forces, becoming a superheated disk of gas that finally vanishes into the black hole.

However, in this instance, something occurred that expelled matter back into space nearly as quickly as light.

We compare it to a toothpaste tube that has been unexpectedly squeezed in the center, causing the toothpaste to spew out of both ends.

The powerful optical, radio, and X-ray emission is then created when the material interacts with the surrounding atmosphere.

According to co-author and MIT astronomer Dr. Dheeraj Pasham, the study team was able to "capture this event right at the beginning, within one week of the black hole commencing to feed on the star."

Additionally, it was the first time an optically detectable jetting TDE has been made.

"Until now, the few jetted-TDEs that are known were originally spotted using high energy gamma-ray and X-ray observatories," Dr. Perley said.

When AT2022cmc was first discovered, scientists used the Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER), an X-ray telescope on the International Space Station, to examine it.

They discovered that the radiation's source was 100 times more potent than the strongest ones ever identified.

As brilliant as they are, falling stars can only create so much light, according to Dr. Benjamin Gompertz of the University of Birmingham, who conducted this investigation.

"We recognized that something genuinely gigantic must be powering AT 2022cmc since it was so brilliant and sustained for so long—a supermassive black hole," the author said.

His team came to the conclusion that the star's destruction caused a swirl of material to fall into the black hole, which is what caused the intense X-ray activity.

According to Dr. Pasham, it is likely engulfing the star at a pace of half the sun's mass per year.

Two journals in Nature and Nature Astronomy have today revealed the findings of the study of AT2022cmc.

It has been well over ten years since a TDE flew, and scientists are still baffled as to why certain TDEs fly and others do not.

The speed at which the star's stuff is spinning around the black hole while it is being consumed is considered to be related to this, and a particularly fast spin may drive the brilliant jets.

Astronomers believe they may be able to witness more TDEs and find some answers when more powerful telescopes are deployed.

We anticipate seeing a lot more of these TDEs in the future, according to co-author and MIT professor Dr. Matteo Lucchini.

Then we might finally be able to explain how black holes produce these very powerful jets.

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