Black holes carry devastatingly powerful forces of nature, and nothing demonstrates their unimaginable would possibly quite like seeing one tear apart a star. Recently, NASA’s sky-scanning TESS satellite caught a glimpse of that precise situation taking part in out at the heart of a galaxy 375 million light-years away.
In a new paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, scientists clarify how they first detected the destructive event utilizing a network of telescopes known as the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae, or ASAS-SN. After its detection, the event was labeled ASASSN-19bt, and NASA’s TESS was used to get an excellent view of the fireworks.
The bright flash of the star getting a bit too near the black hole is called a tidal disruption event, or TDE. The star, drawn in near the black hole by gravity, received close enough that the extraordinary pull tore the star apart, flinging material into space and making a disk of fiery particles that surrounds the black hole. This was the first such event noticed by TESS; however, scientists hope it won’t be the last.
“The early TESS information permits us to see the light very near the black hole, much closer than scientists been able to see before,” Patrick Vallely, co-author of the study, said in a statement. “Additionally they show that ASASSN-19bt’s rise in brightness was very smooth, which helps to tell that the event was a tidal disruption, not another kind of outburst, like from the center of a galaxy or a supernova.”
These observations had been a first for NASA’s TESS; however, it’s merely one of many TDEs astronomers have noticed over time. Still, scientists are desperate to see as many as they can, and NASA believes TESS will play a significant role in recognizing them soon.