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Giant Black Hole Shreds and Swallows Helpless Star
ScienceNOW ^ | 2 May 2012 | Ken Croswell

Posted on 05/03/2012 5:19:20 PM PDT by neverdem

Enlarge Image
sn-star.jpg
Slaughtered star. A black hole (upper left) tears a helium-rich star to shreds.
Credit: S. Gezari/Johns Hopkins University and J. Guillochon, UC Santa Cruz/NASA

Some people seem born under an unlucky star. But some stars are equally unlucky themselves. Astronomers have spotted a star in another galaxy plunging toward a giant black hole and being ripped to shreds, sparking a flare so brilliant that observers detected it from a distance of 2.1 billion light-years. By watching the flare brighten and fade, scientists have achieved the unprecedented feat of reconstructing the life story of the doomed sun.

Giant black holes occupy the centers of most large galaxies, including our own, whose central black hole is 4 million times as massive as the sun and swallows a star once every 10,000 to 100,000 years. Astronomers have recently seen black holes in several other galaxies rip stars apart. But the new drama is unique. "This is the first time where we're really seeing one of these events from start to finish," says astronomer Suvi Gezari of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. "What was so spectacular was the fact that we actually could figure out what type of star was disrupted."

Astronomers first picked up a signal from the constellation Draco in May 2010, when the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii spotted a flare at visible and near-infrared wavelengths. The scientists calculate that the black hole's gravity had torn the star apart a month earlier by pulling harder on one side of the star than the other. As stellar debris funneled into the black hole, gravity and friction roasted the star's remains until they emitted ultraviolet radiation, which NASA's GALEX satellite detected in June. The flare peaked in July 2010, outshining all the stars in the galaxy put together, and then faded, but was still aglow a year later.

As Gezari's team reports online today in Nature, the black hole is about 3 million times more massive than our sun, slightly smaller than the Milky Way's central black hole, and marks the heart of a galaxy dimmer than our own. The black hole swallowed only about half the star, which lost a huge amount of energy by plummeting into the black hole. Because the laws of physics dictate that energy must be conserved, the rest of the star shot away from the black hole at enormous speed.

The team has also pieced together the life story of the unlucky star. Born roughly a billion years ago, it once generated energy as the sun does, converting hydrogen into helium at its core. When the core filled with helium, the star became a red giant—a helium core surrounded by a puffy outer layer of hydrogen.

But the distant sun was doomed. Gezari doesn't know whether it was born in a bad orbit or another star's gravity kicked it into one, but the star began approaching the black hole. Before its fiery demise, when the star was about as far from its nemesis as Pluto is from the sun, the black hole stripped off its hydrogen envelope. That left the star with only its helium core, which was a third of the sun's diameter and bore a quarter of its mass. When the star ventured within 50 million kilometers, slightly closer than Mercury is to the sun, the black hole tore it to pieces. Gezari and her colleagues can infer its composition because they detect helium but no hydrogen in its glowing remains.

"It's quite impressive," says astronomer Giuseppe Lodato of the University of Milan in Italy, who was not affiliated with the scientists who discovered the event. "They're able to infer quite a few details not just about the black hole, but also about the kind of star that has been disrupted."

Ironically, only in death could astronomers study the star's life: It was so distant that had it not been destroyed, no telescope could have seen it.

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TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: astronomy; blackhole; blackholes; catastrophism; physics; xplanets

1 posted on 05/03/2012 5:19:31 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

bm


2 posted on 05/03/2012 5:21:33 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: neverdem

3 posted on 05/03/2012 5:23:00 PM PDT by Maceman
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To: neverdem

Right, isn’t this what happened to Whitney Huston?

Ok, I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it.


4 posted on 05/03/2012 5:23:13 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: neverdem

Trayvon getting just-us on the white-joo
Zimmerman.


5 posted on 05/03/2012 5:25:37 PM PDT by Paladin2
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To: tet68

Damned! You beat me!


6 posted on 05/03/2012 5:31:53 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: neverdem

The poor star! Wasn’t zero supposed to make the universe fair??


7 posted on 05/03/2012 5:39:11 PM PDT by Hardraade (http://junipersec.wordpress.com (nobody gives me warheads anyway))
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To: neverdem

The black hole is gonna have heartburn. Are there any giant Tums floating around?


8 posted on 05/03/2012 5:43:49 PM PDT by Larry Lucido
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To: neverdem

Whew! For a minute there I thought maybe Justin Beiber was dating Oprah Winfrey.


9 posted on 05/03/2012 5:45:11 PM PDT by GeorgeWashingtonsGhost
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To: El Gato; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Robert A. Cook, PE; lepton; LadyDoc; jb6; tiamat; PGalt; Dianna; ...
One of Two Hotly Debated H5N1 Papers Finally Published

New path of origin for macrophages

Nanocrystal probes mimic viruses to gain entry into cells

Two in one technique for biological imaging

FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.

10 posted on 05/03/2012 6:01:06 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem; Lazamataz
She's kinda cute, for an astronomer.

"Heavenly bodies?"

Cheers!

11 posted on 05/03/2012 6:04:47 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: neverdem
"Because the laws of physics dictate that energy must be conserved, the rest of the star shot away from the black hole at enormous speed. "

And... that's where they lost me.

12 posted on 05/03/2012 6:24:07 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: UCANSEE2

What an astronomical waste of money.


13 posted on 05/03/2012 6:26:43 PM PDT by bicyclerepair ( REPLACE D-W-S ! http://www.karenforcongress.com)
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To: SunkenCiv

/mark


14 posted on 05/03/2012 6:27:01 PM PDT by KoRn (Department of Homeland Security, Certified - "Right Wing Extremist")
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To: tet68
Because the laws of physics dictate that energy must be conserved, the rest of the star shot away from the black hole at enormous speed.

Change a few nouns, here and there, and this is Whitney's story.

Thus the wisdom of the Bible reference to "as above, so below".

15 posted on 05/03/2012 6:27:41 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: bicyclerepair

We could always just build a tether to the moon made out of dollar bills pasted end to end.

However the ‘waste’ is not in what they ‘see’, it’s in what they don’t see.


16 posted on 05/03/2012 6:30:53 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: tet68
(oops. pasted wrong stuff)

Right, isn’t this what happened to Whitney Huston?

.....

17 posted on 05/03/2012 6:33:26 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: UCANSEE2

Interesting thought: this happened over a billion years ago.


18 posted on 05/03/2012 6:36:56 PM PDT by dhs12345
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To: neverdem
Sparking a flare so brilliant that observers detected it from a distance of 2.1 billion light-years.

Ok if the flare's light took 2.1 billions years to reach earth then the star has to be AT LEAST 2.1 billion years old right? THe story reports the star is only a billion years old..... Bad journalism. I'll bet he is a "warmist" too.

19 posted on 05/03/2012 6:42:29 PM PDT by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: central_va

you’re innocently committing a fallacy by assuming it’s still there. you’re essentially looking into the past. it is likely gone by now.


20 posted on 05/03/2012 6:46:16 PM PDT by Libertarian4Bush (if you voted for obama, I have no respect for you. you're either a loser or a sucker. sorry!)
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To: UCANSEE2
What they meant anyway was that momentum is conserved.
21 posted on 05/03/2012 6:47:46 PM PDT by Erasmus (BHO: New supreme leader of the homey rollin' empire.)
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To: Maceman

Black Hoe tried to swallow me, bro!


22 posted on 05/03/2012 6:52:39 PM PDT by Right Wing Assault (Dick Obama is more inexperienced now than he was before he was elected.)
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To: Libertarian4Bush
you’re innocently committing a fallacy by assuming it’s still there. you’re essentially looking into the past. it is likely gone by now.

THis crap always confuses me. Ok it happened 2.1 B yrs ago. That says nothing about the age of the consumed star in question it could of only been a million years old for that matter.

23 posted on 05/03/2012 6:56:07 PM PDT by central_va ( I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: neverdem
"Giant Black Hole Shreds and Swallows Helpless Star"

Could that be construed as domestic violence? Will our local bipartisan government receive more federal funding to support such victims?


24 posted on 05/03/2012 7:04:18 PM PDT by familyop ("Wanna cigarette? You're never too young to start." --Deacon, "Waterworld")
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To: neverdem
Because the laws of physics dictate that energy must be conserved, the rest of the star shot away from the black hole at enormous speed.

Now there is a development I'd not heard of before. Fascinating.

25 posted on 05/03/2012 7:04:18 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: central_va
Ok if the flare's light took 2.1 billions years to reach earth then the star has to be AT LEAST 2.1 billion years old right? THe story reports the star is only a billion years old.....

"Oh, dear. Have I made an error in time?

How... fallible of me!"

26 posted on 05/03/2012 7:30:01 PM PDT by Charles Martel (Endeavor to persevere...)
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To: neverdem
Looks like an infrared closeup of Rosie O’s tongue snatching a fly from the air.
27 posted on 05/03/2012 8:11:44 PM PDT by Mister Da (The mark of a wise man is not what he knows, but what he knows he doesn't know!)
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To: neverdem

Meanwhile, our black hole is devouring the private sector.


28 posted on 05/03/2012 8:12:43 PM PDT by grumpygresh (Democrats delenda est; zero sera dans l'enfer bientot.)
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To: neverdem

Meanwhile, our black hole is devouring the private sector.


29 posted on 05/03/2012 8:12:57 PM PDT by grumpygresh (Democrats delenda est; zero sera dans l'enfer bientot.)
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To: neverdem

don’t the law of physics breakdown at black hole “singularities”?
Why wouldn’t all of the star go into the black hole?
Why ain’t the black hole sucking all of the matter in from
all of the stuff in “space” which really ain’t that empty,
including the “stripped star”(no jokes here puhleeze.)

How did all these black holes start in the first place. I
always was told they bring “everything” into it’s venue over
the “event Horizon” and what’s gonna stop it? Only one star
every coupla eons...sounds strange...since the shape of
space is supposedly affected by mass, wouldn’t that cause
more stuff to be “funneled into the black hole?

Oh, well I just couldn’t master differential calculus, and
aal the other maths I would have needed to figure those things
out....


30 posted on 05/03/2012 8:17:28 PM PDT by Getready (Wisdom is more valuable than gold and diamonds, and harder to find.)
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To: central_va
Ok if the flare's light took 2.1 billions years to reach earth then the star has to be AT LEAST 2.1 billion years old right? THe story reports the star is only a billion years old..... Bad journalism. I'll bet he is a "warmist" too.

Good catch! From the 4th paragraph of the ScienceNOW story:

"...the black hole is about 3 million times more massive than our sun..."

I went to the abstract linked in the 4th paragraph

:"The black hole has a mass of about two million solar masses..."

He must have been a journalism najor. You must be able to count in most of the sciences.

31 posted on 05/03/2012 8:30:16 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: GeorgeWashingtonsGhost

Nope. It was Whoopi Goldberg and (fill in the blank).

How about Wanda Sykes and any one of her partners?


32 posted on 05/03/2012 8:44:45 PM PDT by MadMax, the Grinning Reaper
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To: hinckley buzzard; UCANSEE2; Erasmus
Because the laws of physics dictate that energy must be conserved, the rest of the star shot away from the black hole at enormous speed.

"Now there is a development I'd not heard of before. Fascinating."

Erasmus wrote: What they meant anyway was that momentum is conserved.

I was going to write that too, but I was busy with a prior comment. In physics you always have conservation of energy and conservation of momentum. Even though there's no physical contact, think of recoil from a firearm when it's shot.

33 posted on 05/03/2012 8:50:31 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

Of course there is physical contact. The bullet is in the chamber touching something or else the slug would go forward and the casing would go backward. The bullet goes forward and the backward force is transferred through the casing into the firearm mechanism, some of which might be used to activate a semi auto feature and the rest going into your wrist or your shoulder.


34 posted on 05/03/2012 9:23:40 PM PDT by calljack (Sometimes your worst nightmare is just a start.)
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To: calljack
Of course there is physical contact.

Between the black hole are the star? There's a gravitational force field, but that's about it.

35 posted on 05/03/2012 10:31:42 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem
'Giant Black Hole Shreds and Swallows Helpless Star'
Oh ... snap.
From the headline I thought Whoopie Goldberg was dating Ted Danson again.


[]

36 posted on 05/04/2012 5:40:37 AM PDT by Condor51 (Yo Hoffa, so you want to 'take out conservatives'. Well okay Jr - I'm your Huckleberry)
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To: central_va

The star could have been just a billion years old and it and the black hole are 2.1 billion light years away.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

The star was “born” and then killed by the black hole over its billion year lifecycle at 2.1 billion years distance.

I would assume they use the lifespan of other similar stars to determine how old this one star was. They obviously wouldn’t have seen it until the flare of it’s death

The black hole and the star are indeed 2.1 billion light years away, however, the star was just a bunch of hydrogen gas until gravity pulled it into a ball and it ignited a billion years ago.


37 posted on 05/04/2012 6:07:21 AM PDT by hattend (Firearms and ammunition...the only growing industries under the Obama regime.)
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To: neverdem

I was talking about the firearm example


38 posted on 05/04/2012 7:33:11 AM PDT by calljack (Sometimes your worst nightmare is just a start.)
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To: KevinDavis; annie laurie; Knitting A Conundrum; Viking2002; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Mmogamer; ...

Thanks KoRn and neverdem.

 
X-Planets
· join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · post new topic · subscribe ·
Google news searches: exoplanet · exosolar · extrasolar ·

39 posted on 05/05/2012 9:34:43 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FReepathon 2Q time -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: KoRn; 75thOVI; agrace; aimhigh; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; aragorn; aristotleman; ...

Thanks KoRn and neverdem.




40 posted on 05/05/2012 9:35:21 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (FReepathon 2Q time -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: neverdem; Erasmus
Good thing we have ERASMUS to explain what they 'meant'. I guess 'scientists' aren't sticklers for accuracy ?

Anyway, regardless of how it is said, 'momentum is conserved' is like saying the truck moved because it has round wheels.

I would be more apt to believe that half the star was sucked into the 'black hole' and the remaining half was spinning round the vortex so fast that centrifugal force ejected it our past the Scharzhild (sp?) radius, possible at a much higher speed than it was entering.

41 posted on 05/05/2012 10:35:56 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: dhs12345
Interesting thought: this happened over a billion years ago.

Oh yeah. Well... that's if you were actually 'there'.

If you were on Earth, why... seems like yesterday.

42 posted on 05/05/2012 10:38:55 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: central_va
THis crap always confuses me

You should see what it does to the scientists who have to explain it to a reporter.

43 posted on 05/05/2012 10:43:14 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: Condor51
From the headline I thought Whoopie Goldberg was dating Ted Danson again.


44 posted on 05/05/2012 10:45:42 PM PDT by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: Charles Martel; SunkenCiv; All

I believe what the story said was that the star lived for about a billion years before being destroyed 2 billion years ago. Like saying Lincoln live for 50 years before being shot 150 years ago.


45 posted on 05/05/2012 11:14:41 PM PDT by gleeaikin
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To: UCANSEE2
Good thing we have ERASMUS to explain what they 'meant'.

You're welcome.

≤}B^)

46 posted on 05/06/2012 10:14:00 AM PDT by Erasmus (BHO: New supreme leader of the homey rollin' empire.)
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