Signal From Star Being Destroyed at Supermassive Black Hole's Event Horizon Captured

Artist's conception of a tidal disruption event which occurs when a star passes too close to a black hole

Artist's conception of a tidal disruption event which occurs when a star passes too close to a black

"It is very hard, the Spin of a Black hole limit, as the Spin effects occur only very close to the hole itself, where the gravity is extremely strong and it is hard to get a clear view", explains Pasham, in a communication to the European space Agency Esa. A black hole is a collapsed star with a core so dense that it has near-unimaginable gravitational power.

Now researchers at MIT and elsewhere have pored through data from multiple telescopes' observations of the event, and discovered a curiously intense, stable, and periodic pulse, or signal, of X-rays, across all datasets.

The crumbs left over from a supermassive black hole's recent meal have allowed scientists to calculate the monster's rotation rate, and the results are mind-boggling.

Astronomers back in 2014 were searching the night sky for something cool and found what they were looking for.

This artist's impression shows hot gas orbiting in a disk around a rapidly-spinning black hole.

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Astronomers found evidence that the corona of a black hole is what drives its evolution. The black hole was a buzz saw, spinning fast enough to stretch the star into a rotating ring around the black hole's event horizon, the point beyond which not even light can escape.

"That's not super fast - there are other Black holes whose Spin is estimated to be close to 99 percent of the speed of light", explains Pasham.

"There have already been measurements of spins from black holes that are actively accreting", or acquiring more matter under the influence of gravity, the study's first author Dheeraj Pasham, Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow at the MIT Kavli Institute, told Gizmodo.

It makes you uncomfortable when people watch you eat, but J1820 was not that honest as NASA swung the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) to monitor its amount of food which is being consumed by the black hole. We now have no way to measure the spins of quiescent black holes.

The team noted that generally, light echoes are only seen bouncing away from supermassive black holes, like the one at the center of the Milky Way, rather than this comparatively small stellar mass black hole. The scientists from the MIT observed the evolution of a black hole dubbed a MAXI J1820 + 070, as it devours stellar material. It was the first Time the researchers the Tear of a star for their spinning-were able to use calculations, Pasham. According to their calculations, the black hole is rotating at almost half the speed of light.

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This white dwarf would not have been able to emit any detectable radiation on its own. This marks the first time that astronomers used X-rays, which orbit the black hole every 131 seconds, to calculate its incredible speed. As the black hole pulled this material inward, some of the stellar debris fell into the black hole, while some remained just outside, in the innermost stable orbit - the very same orbit in which the white dwarf circled.

These events only emit X-rays for a few hundred years, so the odds of witnessing one is incredibly rare. The chances of detecting such a scenario would be exceedingly slim.

"We would've been extremely lucky to find such a system", says Pasham. "But at least in terms of the properties of the system, this scenario seems to work". "It is very exciting to see another case of X-ray flux oscillations in a tidal disruption event", says Jon Miller (University of Michigan), who has also studied ASASSN-14li.

However, "if you have a high-spin black hole, supermassive black hole, that's telling us that maybe steady accretion was dominant", Pasham said during a news conference at AAS Wednesday.

Spin is one of the fundamental parameters that describe a black hole, like the stats on an ID card.

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Pasham plans to look for, and hopefully spot, more of these dramatic events in the cosmos.

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