Scientists have determined that a burst of visible light that was directed at Earth directly came from a black hole.
No, this is not a scene from a science fiction movie. It was a thrilling finding since it was the first time that a black hole had used light, and it came from an area of space where no light had ever been seen before.
These results have been published in two scholarly journals: one is Nature, where the article is titled “A very luminous jet from the disruption of a star by a massive black hole,” and the other is Nature Astronomy, where the article is titled “The Birth of a Relativistic Jet Following the Disruption of a Star by a Cosmological Black Hole.”
The light reportedly gives off more light than one trillion suns. Pretty impressive, to be fair.
It came about after a star drew too close to a black hole and was torn apart, the resulting blast being seen throughout the universe.
This event is known as a tidal disruption event (TDE). In about one percent of cases, plasma and radiation is sent out of both sides of the black hole.
The light which reached Earth is believed to have started its journey when the universe was a third of its current age.
An unusual thing about this TDE was that it was so bright – primarily because of it being directed towards the Earth. This meant it was a more intense episode.
This TDE took place in February as scientists turned their telescopes – among the most advanced in the world – towards the source.
Astronomers are trying to study this most recent activity in order to understand more about TDES and comprehend them.
After a supermassive black hole literally “burped up” a star that it had “eaten” three years prior, astronomers were left perplexed last month.
Back in 2018, scientists witnessed a small star in a galaxy 665 million light years away from Earth get torn to shreds when it got a little too close to a black hole – which, at the time, was nothing out of the ordinary.
But in June 2021, astronomers were caught ‘completely by surprise’ when that same black hole lit up the skies by spitting out stellar matter.
This was particularly strange to experts, since the black hole hadn’t swallowed anything new since its 2018 feast.
The lead author of a recent study that examined the phenomena, Yvette Cendes, said, “This caught us completely by surprise – no one has ever seen anything like this before.”