A giant flashing light was seen in space: a black hole is gradually “biting off” from a star – video


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Astronomers have discovered and studied 20 recurring flares 570 million light years away – the ASASSN-14ko phenomenon. Using data from two telescopes (Swift Observatory and TESS), they concluded that a supermassive black hole in the galaxy ESO 253-3 generates the cosmic “flasher”, which gradually absorbs a star trapped in a gravitational trap.


The center of a distant galaxy “erupts” approximately every 114 days. A report on this was made yesterday at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

ASASSN-14ko was first seen on November 14, 2014 in the southern constellation of Painter using a global network of 20 robotic telescopes that track supernovae.

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Then astronomers believed that the flash was the result of a supernova explosion. But then, after several years of observation, scientists noticed a series of 17 evenly distributed flares, each reaching maximum brightness for ~ 5 days, and gradually faded away.

Three versions have been proposed. The first is the interaction of disks of hot rotating plasma in two supermassive black holes that revolve around the center of the galaxy. Second: the passage of a star through the accretion disk of one of the black holes. Third: this is the case of a partial tidal erosion event (TDE).

The first two versions were discarded. The third remained: the phenomenon when a giant star approaches in an elongated orbit close enough to a black hole with a mass of ~ 78 million Suns and is gradually stretched out by its monstrous tidal forces. That is, the black hole literally “sucks” a stream of gas from the star, without completely destroying it.

As a star rushes past the black hole, we see bright flares: stellar gas falling in the direction of the singularity strikes the accretion disk. It was calculated that each flight “steals” from the star as much gas, which would be enough for three Jupiters.

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“These are the most predictable and frequently recurring multi-wavelength flares we’ve seen in galactic nuclei, and they give us a unique opportunity to study extragalactic ‘geysers’ in detail,” the authors of the find rejoice, drawing analogies with the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

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