Scientists Find Black Hole Shooting Light Toward Earth: Why It Matters?

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Scientists Find Black Hole Shooting Light Toward Earth: Why It Matters

Astronomers have discovered a black hole eating up a star around 8.5 billion light years away with the help of the Very Large Telescope (VLT). It is the farthest distance at which scientists have witnessed such a cosmic event.

 

While they couldn’t gaze over the whole event, they only saw the black hole feeding in visible light as the leftovers of the star were ejected through a jet that was pointed straight toward our planet. This finding has led to two separate studies published in the journals Nature Astronomy and Nature.

What Makes This Discovery Rare?

This form of a star’s destruction is known as a tidal disruption event (TDE), which happens when a star lurks too close to a black hole, where the cosmic monster’s immensely powerful gravitational pull can suck them easily despite its incredibly high mass.

However, even black holes burp after a heavy meal. Around one percent of the time, a TDE produces jets of plasma and radiation that come out from the black hole's poles, like a cosmic laser beam. But scientists still don’t know how such a powerful jet occurs.

The rarity of witnessing such an event makes it so unanticipated that this black hole’s jet pointed toward our planet. Otherwise, there was no chance it would’ve been picked by the Zwicky Transient Facility. This signal prompted scientists to aim 21 telescopes, including the VLT, in the black hole’s direction.

An “Extraordinary” Event

When the astronomers detected the matter from the jet, they first thought it was a gamma-ray burst, which is among the most energetic explosions of energy that occur in the cosmos. However, they were surprised to know that a black hole is gorging on a star.

"This particular event was 100 times more powerful than the most powerful gamma-ray burst afterglow," said Dheeraj Pasham, an astrophysicist at MIT and co-author of the Nature Astronomy paper. "It was something extraordinary."

This discovery will help scientists learn more about these elusive TDEs, and this discovery could be the first stepping stone in the journey.

Earth’s Closest Black Hole

Recently, scientists discovered a massive black hole in our cosmic neighborhood. The newly discovered black hole is ten times bigger than our Sun and is located around 1,600 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.

It is said to be the closest black hole to Earth. Earlier, the nearest black hole to Earth was found 3,000 light years away.

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