Astronomers See Distant Eruption as Black hole Destroys Star

"Observed by the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and NASA's Spitzer infrared telescope"


An international group of astronomers, in which Prof. Andreas Efstathiou, Vice-Rector of Research and External Affairs of European University Cyprus, participated has announced in the scientific journal Science the discovery of a distant explosion caused by the destruction of a star from a supermassive black hole.

Scientists have watched the event with telescopes such as the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and NASA'sSpitzer infrared telescope in a pair of colliding galaxies called Arp 299. Such tidal disruption events (TDEs) form a rotating disk around the black hole and a jet of particles.

"We have never been able to directly observe the formation and development of a jet from one of these events," said Miguel Perez-Torres, of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia in Granada, Spain. "TDE events can give us a unique opportunity to promote understanding of the formation and evolution of these jets in the galaxies' nuclei," he added.

Caption: Artist’s conception of the TDE event at the center of the Arp 299 system, which happens when a star passes near a supermassive black hole, and reacts by ejecting a jet of particles. Credits: Sophia Dagnello, NRAO/AUI/NSF.

It is worth noting that the first indication of the explosion was not in radio waves but in infrared emission from the event in January 2005. "Over time, the new object remained bright in infrared and radio waves, but not in visible light and X-rays," said Seppo Mattila, of the University of Turku in Finland. "Because of the dust that absorbed any visible light, this particular tidal disruption event may be just the tip of the iceberg of what until now has been a hidden population," Mattila said.

"The participation of the European University Cyprus in this important discovery is one of the greatest research achievements of recent years," said Andreas Efstathiou, who participated in the group of astronomers. "Our simulations on the emission of galaxies proved to be very useful for the interpretation of infrared observations of the TDE event in Arp 299", he added.

Mattila and Perez-Torres led the group of astronomers who published the findings in the journal Science on June 14, 2018.


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