Astronomers have captured images of radio jet waves blasting into outer space as a star was ripped apart by an enormous black hole. This actually took place over the course of 10 years, and an international team of scientists have followed the star’s complete destruction. It’s also the first time they’ve observed jets of radio waves emitting from a shredding star.
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When stars get close to a supermassive black hole, they stretch out and send bright flares as a final act before their gases fall beyond the event horizon. These flares are registered on the X-ray, ultraviolet and visible light spectrum. Astronomers at the University of Turku in Finland were originally looking at a pair of colliding galaxies, known as Arp 299, hoping to see signs of supernovae.
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Arp 299 is around 150 million light years away in the constellation Ursa Major, more commonly referred to as The Big Dipper. Due to the huge clouds of dust left behind by Arp 299’s massive young stars, the scientists had to go to less affected “long wavelengths of light with infrared and even radio waves,” said study co-author Stuart Ryder of the Australian Astronomical Observatory.
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During their initial observations, they caught a bright burst of infrared emissions coming from the dusty centre of one of the galaxies. They then used a series of radio telescopes, known as the VLBA, or Very Long Baseline Array, to received new radio signals from the area. Eventually they became brighter and size years later, in 2011, they could make out an elongated jet-like structure. Over the decade, 100 times the energy seen in a typical supernova explosion was observed. Check out the video below for more info...