Have scientists detected a nearby black hole devouring a star?

May 06, 2023 09:00 pm | Updated 09:00 pm IST

Once every 10,000 years or so, the centre of a galaxy lights up as its supermassive black hole rips apart a passing star. This tidal disruption event happens in a literal flash, as the central black hole pulls in stellar material and blasts out huge amounts of radiation in the process.

Astronomers know of around 100 tidal disruption events (TDE) in distant galaxies, based on the burst of light that arrives at telescopes on Earth and in space. Most of this light comes from X-rays and optical radiation.

Researchers, turning past the conventional X-ray and UV/optical bands, have discovered a new tidal disruption event, shining brightly in infrared. It is one of the first times scientists have directly identified a TDE at infrared wavelengths, says a release.

The new outburst happens to be the closest tidal disruption event observed to date: The flare was found in NGC 7392, a galaxy that is about 137 million light-years from Earth, which corresponds to a region in our cosmic backyard that is one-fourth the size of the next-closest TDE.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.