Scientists recently claim that a sun-like star, known as Swift J0230 follows an elliptical orbit around a low-mass black hole situated at the center of its galaxy. Astronomers have made a remarkable observation of a Sun-like star ‘repeatedly shredded and consumed’ by a black hole 500 million light-years away from us.
As per a report published, this extraordinary event generated regular bursts of luminosity occurring at intervals of roughly 25 days, a phenomenon that drew the attention of researchers from the University of Leicester.
Normally, black hole outbursts, known as tidal disruption events, appear when a black hole devours a star. However, in this instance, the black hole was emitting recurrent emissions, indicating that it was repeatedly causing partial destruction to the stars it consumed. The events of repeated eruptions lead to two distinct types of outbursts: some transpire every few hours, while others take place annually. The researchers noted that the observed regularity fell somewhere in between these two categories.
The observations revealed an unexpected pattern in the star’s behavior. Instead of fading away as anticipated, the star would radiate intensely for a duration of seven to 10 days before abruptly extinguishing, repeating this cycle approximately every 25 days.
Calculations suggest that material equivalent to the mass of three Earths is ripped from Swift J0230’s atmosphere and heated up as it plunges into the black hole, generating intense temperatures of approximately 2,000,000 degrees Celsius and releasing huge amounts of X-rays. These X-rays were initially detected by NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory.
The researchers estimate that the black hole’s mass ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 times that of the Sun, making it relatively small for a supermassive black hole.
This star was spotted using a new tool – a transient detector – developed by the Leicester team for the observatory.
Dr Kim Page from the university, who worked on the study said, ‘Given that we found Swift J0230 within a few months of enabling our new transient-hunting tool, we expect that there are a lot more objects like this out there, waiting to be uncovered’