An intermediate-mass black hole lurking undetected in a dwarf galaxy revealed itself to astronomers when it gobbled up an unlucky star that strayed too close.
The shredding of the star is known as a ‘tidal disruption event’ or ‘spaghettification’—and it produced a flare of radiation that briefly outshone the combined stellar light of the host dwarf galaxy, which could help scientists better understand the relationships between black holes and galaxies.
One of the biggest open questions in astronomy has been how supermassive black holes form, according to the co-author of the paper detailing the new discovery.
Astronomers detected the first signs of light as the black hole began eating a star—and it became a pivotal discovery because the duration of such an event can be used to measure mass.
The flare was captured by astronomers with the Young Supernova Experiment (YSE), a survey designed to detect cosmic explosions and transient astrophysical events.
An international team led by scientists at UC Santa Cruz, the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen, and Washington State University reported the discovery in a paper published this week in Nature Astronomy.
“This discovery has created widespread excitement because we can use tidal disruption events not only to find more intermediate-mass black holes in quiet dwarf galaxies, but also to measure their masses,” said coauthor Ryan Foley, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, who helped plan the YSE survey.
First author Charlotte Angus at the Niels Bohr Institute said the team’s findings provide a baseline for future studies of midsize black holes.
“The fact that we were able to capture this midsize black hole whilst it devoured a star offered us a remarkable opportunity to detect what otherwise would have been hidden from us,” she explained.
LOOK: Incredible 3D Rendering from Jupiter Spacecraft Reveals “Frosted Cupcake” Clouds
“What is more, we can use the properties of the flare itself to better understand this elusive group of middle-weight black holes, which could account for the majority of black holes in the centers of galaxies.”
Supermassive black holes are found at the centers of all massive galaxies, including our own Milky Way. Astronomers conjecture that these massive beasts, with millions or billions of times the mass of the sun, could have grown from smaller “intermediate-mass” black holes with thousands to hundreds of thousands of solar masses.
One theory for how such massive black holes were assembled is that the early universe was rampant with small dwarf galaxies with intermediate-mass black holes. Over time, these dwarf galaxies would have merged or been gobbled up by more massive galaxies, their cores combining each time to build up the mass in the center of the growing galaxy. This merger process would eventually create the supermassive black holes seen today.
“If we can understand the population of intermediate-mass black holes out there—how many there are and where they are located—we can help determine if our theories of supermassive black hole formation are correct,” said coauthor Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC and Niels Bohr Professor at the University of Copenhagen.
POPULAR: Travel 2,000 Light-Years in 60 Seconds With New Video From NASA’s Webb Telescope
But do all dwarf galaxies have midsize black holes?
Classic black hole hunting techniques, which look for actively feeding black holes, are often not sensitive enough to uncover black holes in the centers of dwarf galaxies. As a result, only a minuscule fraction of dwarf galaxies is known to host intermediate-mass black holes. Finding more midsize black holes with tidal disruption events could help to settle the debate about how supermassive black holes form.
Data from the Young Supernova Experiment enabled the team to unlock how big the black hole was—a method, until now, which had only been shown to work well for supermassive black holes.
CHECK OUT: Scientists Discover a Quantum Imprint Within Black Hole’s Gravity That Finally Resolves Hawking’s Paradox
“This flare was incredibly fast, but because our YSE data gave us so much early information about the event, we were really able to pin down the mass of the black hole using it,” Angus said.
SHARE the Far Out Facts With Questioning Minds on Social Media…
From HODL to Wealth: Mastering Ethereum Investments
Cryptocurrency investors have witnessed the meteoric rise of Ethereum, making it a formidable contender in the digital asset market. Ethereum’s...
The Night Agent Season 2: Release Date, Cast, Production Details, and More Explored
Are you waiting for the release of The Night Agent season 2? The action thriller show is based on a...
Design Alchemy: Bilan Liu’s Journey of Creativity and Connection
In the midst of modern design’s hustle and bustle, Bilan Liu is a shining star of ingenuity and artistry. As a...
From Bistros to Brasseries: Commercial Restaurant Furniture Styles for Different Dining Concepts
Setting the tone for an outstanding dining experience for your guests extends beyond the food. It has to include every...
NetReputation Reddit: Best Online Website Management Service
Are you a website online that is exhausted of the constant, round the clock website management as well as maintaining...
Jennifer Garner’s Biography: Personal Life, Net Worth, Lifestyle and More
Janet Anne Garner is an American actress who was born on April 17, 1972. From 2001 to 2006, she played...
James Cameron Net Worth: From Blockbuster Movies To Deep-Sea Exploration
James Cameron is a name that needs no introduction come on. As a filmmaker, explorer, and innovator, he has left...
Kaceytron’s Net Worth Explored: How Much Does The Twitch Streamer Earn?
Kaceytron has carved out a prominent position in the world of live streaming, captivating audiences with her personality and engaging...
What Is Caitlyn Jenner’s Net Worth?
Caitlyn Jenner, the diva who got famous through her work on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, has a lavish life,...
Sylvester Stallone’s Net Worth, Career, Lifestyle, and More
Sylvester Stallone is an actor, writer, producer, and director from the United States. He is now one of the most...