The event, known as AT2019qiz, occurred about 215 million light years away from Earth, in a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Eridanus.
A group of astronomers from the University of California at Berkeley (USA .) revealed that in 2019 it observed a large luminous emission caused by a tidal disruption event, which occurs when a star is torn apart or ‘spaghetti’ after getting too close to a supermassive black hole, due to the intense gravity exerted on it, the American scientific institution reported on Monday.
Agreed With the study, published in the journal Monthly Notice of the Royal Astronomical Society, the event, called AT2019qiz, happened about 215 million light years away from Earth, in a spiral galaxy in the constellation of Eridanus.
“One of the craziest things a supermassive black hole can do is rip a star apart with its enormous tidal forces”, said Professor Wenbin Lu, adding that “stellar tidal disruption events are one of the few ways astronomers know about the existence of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies and measure their properties”.
However, he pointed out that given “the extreme computational cost in numerical simulation of such events, astronomers still do not understand the complicated processes that occur after an interruption of the tides”.
Because the event was the or bright enough, the researchers were able to study the polarization of its optical light, in order to learn what happened after the star was destroyed. This was achieved through the use of the Shane telescope, located at the Lick Observatory in California, which is equipped with the Kast spectrograph, an instrument that can calculate the polarization of light throughout the optical spectrum.
The star was not completely destroyed
According to astronomers, the first Observations revealed that much of the star’s material formed a spherical cloud of gas, as it was blown outward in a powerful wind that reached speeds of up to 10,000 kilometers per second. This situation caused most of the high-energy electromagnetic radiation emissions caused by the destruction of the star to be blocked.
However, recent light polarization data revealed that the gas cloud was spherically symmetric. “This is the first time anyone has deduced the shape of the gas cloud around a tidally spaghetti star”, explained scientist Alex Filippenko.
Finally, the results show why astronomers did not see the emission of large amounts of high-energy X-rays in various disruption events the tides, and it is because these are hidden by the gas expelled by the strong winds of the black hole, dragging them into an accretion disk. “Studying polarized light actually helps us deduce some information about the distribution of matter in that explosion or, in this case, how the gas, and possibly the accretion disk, forms around this black hole,” Filippenko concluded. .