New visual depicts black hole's gravity

Pablo Tucker
September 27, 2019

However, NASA has now released a new and stunning visualisation of a black hole which illustrates how the gravity of the giant celestial structure distorts our view, twisting its nearby surroundings.

Tidal disruptions are incredibly rare, occurring once every 10,000 to 100,000 years in a galaxy the size of our own Milky Way.

The observations were published Thursday in The Astrophysical Journal.

The supermassive black hole that generated ASASSN-19bt weighs around 6 million times the Sun's mass. Until now, scientists have witnessed 40 such events so far, but it's still tough to spot one.

Washington, Sep 27 (IANS): In a rare sighting of a cosmic event, a NASA spacecraft created to discover alien planets watched a black hole tearing apart a star in a cataclysmic phenomenon called a tidal disruption event.


A network of 20 robotic telescopes, All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN), initially noticed that there was something brewing in the distant galaxy.

According to NASA, the detection by the ASAS-SN was followed by observation with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, Swift, and the Las Cumbres Observatory network of ground-based telescopes. Together with the TESS data, these observations paint a picture of a tidal disruption event in unprecedented detail.

It's known as a tidal disruption event, or TDE.

"Only a handful of TDEs have been discovered before they reached peak brightness, and this one was found just a few days after it started to brighten".

For TESS to observe ASASSN-19bt so early in its tenure, and in the continuous viewing zone where we could watch it for so long, is really quite extraordinary.


Scientists previously believed that all TDEs would look the same, but ASASSN-19bt is unusual in several ways.

TESS is surveying an area in the sky that is 400 times larger than what Kepler observed, including 200,000 of the brightest nearby stars.

And because ASAS-SN caught the tidal disruption event early, Holoien was able to train additional telescopes on the event, capturing a more detailed look than might have been possible before.

'They also show us that ASASSN-19bt's rise in brightness was very smooth, which helps us tell that the event was a tidal disruption and not another type of outburst, like from the center of a galaxy or a supernova'. Second, On July 18, 2019 TESS began its second year of observations, and is now observing regions of the sky where telescopes in Hawaiʻi are well positioned to observe interesting objects seen by TESS.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, the PJV is supported by the National Science Foundation, Danish National Research Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University, a Hubble Fellowship, a Simons Foundation Fellowship, an IBM Einstein Fellowship from the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the Packard Foundation.


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