Astronomers catch first ever glimpse of a black hole swallowing a neutron star - ednews.net

29 November, Monday

Astronomers catch first ever glimpse of a black hole swallowing a neutron star

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For the first time, astronomers have witnessed a black hole swallowing a neutron star – the most dense object in the universe .
 
Ten days later they saw the same thing on the other side of the universe.
 
In both cases, a neutron star — a teaspoon of which would weigh a billion tons — orbits ever closer to the black hole, until the two finally crash together and the neutron
star is gone in a gobble.
 
Astronomers witnessed the last 500 orbits before the neutron stars were swallowed, a process that took far less than a minute and briefly generated as much energy as all the visible light in the observable universe.
 
“It was just a big quick (gulp), gone,” said study co-author Patrick Brady, an astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.
 
The black hole “gets a nice dinner of a neutron star and makes itself just a little bit more massive”.
 
The bursts of energy from the collisions were discovered when detectors on Earth spotted the mergers’ gravitational waves, cosmic energetic ripples soaring through space and time as first theorized by Albert Einstein.
 
They each came from more than one billion light-years away.
 
The waves were detected in January of 2020, but the study analysing and interpreting the data by more than 100 scientists was published Tuesday in Astrophysical Journal Letters.
 
While astronomers had seen gravitational waves from two black holes colliding with each other and two neutron stars colliding with each other, this is the first time they saw one of each crashing together. 
Neutron stars are corpses of massive stars, what is leftover after a big star dies in a supernova explosion.

independent.ie

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