Scientists looking at galaxy 1.8bn light years away discover cosmic event taking more than a decade, when most stars would succumb in a year

Scientists have detected a black hole spending more than a decade devouring a star something that usually only takes a year.

The event happened in a small galaxy 1.8bn light years from Earth.

University of New Hampshire research scientist Dacheng Lin said black holes sucking in stars had been observed since the 1990s. At 11 years and counting this was the longest event yet detected.

Lin and his team used data from orbiting X-ray telescopes to study the phenomenon. X-ray flares erupt when a star gets swallowed by a black hole and heated to millions of degrees.

We have witnessed a stars spectacular and prolonged demise, Lin said.

The X-rays coming from this black hole surpassed expectations in another way. For most of the time weve been looking at this object it has been growing rapidly, said the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics James Guillochon, a co-author.

This tells us something unusual like a star twice as heavy as our Sun is being fed into the black hole.

The event far in the past, relative to Earth time should taper off over the next decade.

The discovery was reported on Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

With the Associated Press

Read more:

Black hole and distant sun locked in slow-motion dance of death
Tagged on: