Black hole eats a super-Jupiter
“We estimate that only its external layers were eaten by the black hole, amounting to about 10% of the object’s total mass, and that a denser core has been left orbiting the black hole.”
The flaring event in NGC 4845 can be seen as a warm-up act for a similar event expected in the supermassive black hole at the centre of our own Milky Way Galaxy, perhaps even this year.
While there are no brown dwarfs or planets on the menu this time, a compact cloud of gas amounting to just a few Earth masses has been seen spiralling towards the black hole and is predicted to meet its fate soon.
Along with the object seen being eaten by the black hole in NGC 4845, these events will tell astronomers more about what happens to the demise of different types of objects as they encounter black holes of varying sizes.
“Estimates are that events like these may be detectable every few years in galaxies around us, and if we spot them, Integral, along with other high-energy space observatories, will be able to watch them play out just as it did with NGC 4845,” says Christoph Winkler, ESA’s Integral project scientist.
ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
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University of Bialystok, Poland
University of Geneva, Switzerland
ESA Integral Project Scientist