An enormous star in a galaxy located nearly 4 billion light-years from the Earth met the most dramatic end known in the universe – death by a supermassive black hole. And the star, which in its lifetime was half a trillion times brighter than our Sun, released a brilliant flash of light before it bid adieu.
The spectacular event, that was earlier being described as a “supernova explosion“, was recorded by a team of astronomers who were studying the event last year. But according to fresh observations, the star met its heartbreaking end by being pulled into oblivion by a black hole that was venturing into the nearby space.
Most stars live a very long life and they die when they run out of their hydrogen fuel and their death is based on their size. While the stars like our sun turn into a white dwarf star at the end of their lifetime, the stars bigger than the sun meet a soul-stirring fate, resulting in a supernova explosion, which can either form a neutron star or a super-scary black hole.
A supermassive black hole exerts a strong gravitational pull and it has the capability to tear everything apart. And that’s what scientists believe happened in case of our dying star. The scientists have named the event (dying of the star) as ASASSN-15lh.
Giorgos Leloudas from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel has been observing this spectacular event for 10 months and has concluded that the event was too bright to be a supernova explosion.
How the star met its end is a tragic tale. The scientists believe that the star was too close to the black hole and got pulled apart, in what’s known as a tidal disruption event or spaghettification.
But no ordinary black hole can lure the star, with the mass at least 100 million times that of the Sun, to fade into extinction. Usually, non-spinning black holes don’t hold the power to pull a giant star beyond its event horizon, the boundary around the black hole beyond which the gravitational pull becomes so strong that even light cannot escape from it.
Scientists believe that only a spinning supermassive black hole has the power to rip apart a giant star instead of gulping it down. As of now, scientists remain uncertain if tidal disruption event is how the star met its catastrophic fate and believe that more study is required before anything can be concluded.