Paris: A black hole described as a
"cosmic monster" lurking at the heart of a galaxy has been
recorded as it tore apart a luckless star, astronomers reported
in the journal Nature.
On March 25, NASA`s Swift orbital telescope captured a
surge of X-rays from deep space, disgorged by what was clearly
an immensely powerful source.
Closer observation revealed a "supermassive" black
hole with a mass a million times that of the Sun.
The X-ray flare was a "relativistic outflow," or a jet
of high-energy matter that flowed from the star as it was
pulled apart by the black hole`s gravitational pull and hauled
towards its maw.
The jet, called Swift J164449.3+573451, moved at 99.5
percent of the speed of light.
"Supermassive" black holes are commonly found at the
centre of galaxies. The newly discovered black hole is about
the size of its counterpart in our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Even so, they are relative tiddlers, for some
"supermassive" specimens have been measured at a mass of more
than a billion Suns.