Scientists have made a groundbreaking discovery after observing a massive black hole located 290 million light-years away as it destroyed a large star and dispersed its remnants into space. The aftermath of this event was studied using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton.
Researchers analyzed the X-ray data to determine the nitrogen-to-carbon ratio in the debris field left by the destroyed star. This analysis revealed that a star with three times the mass of the Sun was torn apart, making it one of the largest “tidal disruption events” ever observed.
To visualize the destruction of the star, known as ASASSN-14li, an artist’s illustration was created. Through examining the elements in the resulting gas, scientists were able to estimate the mass of the shredded star and gain insights into its composition.
ASASSN-14li was first discovered in 2014 and has been closely monitored by various telescopes, including Chandra. This recent observation presents an exciting opportunity for future studies and could potentially help identify the presence of star clusters around supermassive black holes in distant galaxies.
Furthermore, this study provides evidence that the observed elements in the X-rays originated from a single star, rather than previous eruptions from the black hole. These findings have been published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, showcasing their significance in the scientific community.
The research was conducted by a team of scientists from esteemed institutions such as the University of Michigan, Carnegie Observatories, University of California Santa Cruz, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, University of Maryland, and the University of Michigan.
With further research and advancements in technology, scientists hope to unlock even more secrets about black holes and the catastrophic events they create. This discovery adds to our understanding of the mysterious and powerful forces at play in our vast universe.