Researchers discover a black hole feeding frenzy that breaks records

February 6, 2017, University of New Hampshire
Artist illustration depicting the record breaking “tidal disruption event” (TDE). The red shows hotter material that falls toward the black hole and generates a distinct X-ray flare. The blue shows a wind blowing from the infalling material. Credit: CXC/M. Weiss; X-ray: NASA/CXC/UNH/D. Lin et al, Optical: CFHT

A giant black hole ripped apart a nearby star and then continued to feed off its remains for close to a decade, according to research led by the University of New Hampshire. This black hole meal is more than 10 times longer than any other previous episode of a star's death.

"We have witnessed a star's spectacular and prolonged demise," said Dacheng Lin, a research scientist at UNH's Space Science Center and the study's lead author. "Dozens of these so-called events have been detected since the 1990s, but none that remained bright for nearly as long as this one."

Using data from a trio of orbiting X-ray telescopes, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and Swift Satellite as well as ESA's XMM-Newton, researchers found evidence of a massive "tidal disruption event" (TDE). Tidal forces, due to the intense gravity gradient of the black hole, can destroy an object – such as a star – that wanders too close. During a TDE, some of the stellar debris is flung outward at high speeds, while the rest falls toward the black hole. As it travels inward, and is ingested by the black hole, the material heats up to millions of degrees and generates a distinct X-ray flare.

These multiwavelength flares, which can be viewed by the satellites, help to study otherwise dormant massive back holes. Previous flares were short-lived, typically becoming very faint in a year, but this super-long X-ray flare has been persistently bright for close to a decade. The extraordinary long bright phase of this TDE means that either this was the most massive star ever to be torn apart during one of these events, or the first where a smaller star was completely torn apart.

The X-ray source containing this force-fed black hole, known by its abbreviated name of XJ1500+0154, is located in a small galaxy about 1.8 billion light years from Earth.

The X-ray data also indicates that radiation from material surrounding this black hole has consistently surpassed the so-called Eddington limit, defined by a balance between the outward pressure of radiation from the hot gas and the inward pull of the gravity of the black hole.

The conclusion that can grow, from TDEs and perhaps other means, at rates above those corresponding to the Eddington limit has important implications. Such rapid growth may help explain how supermassive were able to reach masses about a billion times higher than the sun when the universe was only about a billion years old.

Based on the modeling by the researchers the black hole's feeding supply should be significantly reduced in the next decade and begin to fade in the next several years.

A paper describing these results appears in the February 6th issue of the journal Nature Astronomy.

Explore further: Spinning black hole swallowing star explains superluminous event

More information: A likely decade-long sustained tidal disruption event, Nature Astronomy, www.nature.com/articles/s41550-016-0033 , arxiv.org/abs/1702.00792

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eachus
1 / 5 (3) Feb 06, 2017
Sigh! The Eddington limit assumes that matter is falling in from all directions. We know that feeding black holes have accretion disks. which totally ignore Eddington. The bright radiation comes from the disk, not the black hole, and the disk can radiate lots of energy in directions other than toward the disk. Material elevated above or below the disk will get rapidly pushed into jets by the radiation pressure. Atoms or particles in the inner part of the disk will have been selected and trained into the disk by collisions. Some will be lost, but once in the disk plane, the net vertical radiation pressure will be zero. Some things will get knocked loose by collisions, but in the inner part of the disk, collisions will be very rare. Anything in such an orbit will take a fast jet out of town. ;-)
Benni
1 / 5 (5) Feb 06, 2017
We know that feeding black holes have accretion disks.
...........and how do you know this? You have some pics to put up proving this?

Material elevated above or below the disk will get rapidly pushed into jets by the radiation pressure. Atoms or particles in the inner part of the disk will have been selected and trained into the disk by collisions
........You've OBSERVED all this? How about if you share the pics? Or maybe you know about a secret satellite NASA sent out there at WARP SPEED to transmit all this data back to us at also WARP SPEED?

jonesdave
4.3 / 5 (6) Feb 06, 2017
We know that feeding black holes have accretion disks.
...........and how do you know this? You have some pics to put up proving this?

Material elevated above or below the disk will get rapidly pushed into jets by the radiation pressure. Atoms or particles in the inner part of the disk will have been selected and trained into the disk by collisions
........You've OBSERVED all this? How about if you share the pics? Or maybe you know about a secret satellite NASA sent out there at WARP SPEED to transmit all this data back to us at also WARP SPEED?


Are electrons real? Depending on how you answer this, please post a pic.
Azrael
4 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2017
We know that feeding black holes have accretion disks.
...........and how do you know this? You have some pics to put up proving this?

Material elevated above or below the disk will get rapidly pushed into jets by the radiation pressure. Atoms or particles in the inner part of the disk will have been selected and trained into the disk by collisions
........You've OBSERVED all this? How about if you share the pics? Or maybe you know about a secret satellite NASA sent out there at WARP SPEED to transmit all this data back to us at also WARP SPEED?



Haven't vetted the source yet, but a quick Google search turned up this quasar accretion disk directly imaged via gravitational lens:

https://spacetele...heic1116

Hope this doesn't shatter your world view. Hope it does result in less vitriol.
eachus
not rated yet Feb 08, 2017
Azrael may have covered this, but doubting that black holes have accretion disks is...well silly. The only way we can detect black holes is by the extreme radiation from their accretion disks. Well some nearby black holes, like the one in the center of the Milky Way, can also be detected by their gravitational effects on nearby stars. And two pairs of black holes merging have been detected by LIGO at distances of billions of light years.

Also, measuring the distance from the inner edge of the accretion disk to... Whoops! Can't finish that sentence. The radius and diameter of an accretion disk are infinite. (More correctly the area inside the accretion disk is infinite.) What you measure is the diameter that matches what would be the diameter if it wasn't for the black hole. ;-) Anyway, that gives you the mass of the black hole. Even that require applying general relativity to what you are seeing, usually by a network of radio telescopes.
eachus
not rated yet Feb 08, 2017
Are electrons real? Depending on how you answer this, please post a pic.


They are real. As for pictures, if you watched TV at least a few years ago or used a CRT monitor. The images you saw were formed by scanning a beam of electrons across a screen covered with phosphors. Or if you remember really old particle accelerators. Letting the beam out into the air and photographing it was almost a required part of commissioning. For betatrons, that beam is all electrons, and you are seeing the photons emitted as the electrons slow down in air. I found this pic, but it may be a proton beam: https://www.physi...t_27.jpg

Finally, LEDs and fluorescent lights use photons emitted by electrons, directly for LEDs, and indirectly in fluorescent lights. Now, has anyone seen a quark? ;-)

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