I was doing some of my regular browsing of the science and astronomy websites, when I came across one that had an article about black holes. I find these deep space objects to be some of the most fascinating things to be studied, as I do enjoy reading and learning more about them. While reading some of the recent science news, this topic of a killer black hole captured my immediate attention.
Scientific researchers working with The N.A.S.A. Galaxy Evolution Explorer and Pan-STARRS1 Telescope at The Institute for Astronomy Maui have been studying details of a supermassive black hole that is satisfying it’s hunger pangs. Located in a galaxy that is roughly 2.7 billion miles from Earth (I tried finding out which galaxy, to no avail….), this colossal black hole is estimated to be four million times as massive as The Sun. It has a gravitational grasp on a helium-saturated star that has drifted too close to escape it’s extreme power!
Apparently, this star, a red giant, wandered too close to the central region of it’s galaxy. It came within ninety million miles of the galactic center. As is expected with most galaxies, supermassive black holes lurk at their cores. Many of them are active, meaning that they exert extreme gravitational forces, from which nothing will escape if it gets to close to the event horizon. This distant galaxy is no different from the norm, as it’s central black hole fed upon a star that wandered too close!
Gas pulled off of this star is being seen, as it is being swallowed by the black hole. Researchers from The Johns Hopkins University observed that this star already is losing more hydrogen than helium, as the black hole is ejecting excess helium because it has too much of it. Greedy sucker! The scientific viewers have seen where this black hole is absorbing this star, while actively ejecting helium, due to it apparently having fed off of ample levels of helium from prior victims.
The viewing of this act does bring to mind the thought of what is happening with Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way. There is discussion of the black hole already having fed upon stars that wandered too closely to the galactic center, then were switched into space snacks! However, this kind of action occurring within our galaxy apparently is a rare event, with researchers reporting that it happens usually once in every 100,000 years. Apparently, Sagittarius A* only is feeding upon passing asteroids, at the moment.