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UM Scientists Hear ‘Scream’ As Star Is Devoured By Black Hole
CBS Detroit ^ | August 6, 2012 6:16 PM | Matt Roush

Posted on 08/07/2012 3:26:22 PM PDT by null and void


ANN ARBOR — Astrophysicists have detected, for the first time, the oscillating signal that heralds the last gasps of a star falling victim to a previously dormant supermassive black hole.

Led by researchers at the University of Michigan, the team documented the event with the Suzaku and XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray telescopes. These instruments picked up semi-regular blips in the light from a numerically-named galaxy 3.9 billion light years away in the northern constellation Draco the dragon.

The blips, scientifically known as “quasiperiodic oscillations,” occurred steadily every 200 seconds, but occasionally disappeared. Such signals have often been detected at smaller black holes and they’re believed to emanate from material about to be sucked in, explained Rubens Reis, an Einstein Postdoctoral Fellow at UM and first author of a paper on the work published last week in Science Express.

“In order for the black hole to feed from a star that its gravity has broken apart, the remains of the star must form an accretion disk surrounding the black hole,” Reis said. “The disk gets heated up and we can see emissions from the disk very close to the black hole in X-rays. As this matter is falling in, it gives a quasiperiodic wobble and that’s the signal we detected.”

“You can think of it as hearing the star scream as it gets devoured, if you like,” added Jon Miller, astronomy professor at UM and a co-author of the paper.

The researchers liken the signal to a sound because it repeats at a characteristic frequency, which they say would sound like an ultra-low D-sharp.

Scientists were able to “see” this event with NASA’s Swift Gamma-ray Burst Telescope last year, but they didn’t detect the oscillations at that time. Oscillations have been documented in stellar mass black holes having masses about ten times that of the Sun in our own Milky Way Galaxy. They have also been observed emanating from a supermassive black hole at the core of a nearby active galaxy.

Scientists have never identified a quasiperiodic signal from a latent galactic core that had reactivated, nor had they ever observed an event like this so far away.

“Our discovery opens the possibility of studying orbits close to black holes that are very distant, and it could make it possible to study general relativity under extreme settings,” Miller said.

For Reis, the findings confirm the constancy of black hole physics.

“This is telling us that the same physical phenomenon we observe in stellar mass black holes is also observed in black holes a million times the mass of the sun, and also for black holes that were previously asleep,” he said. “It speaks to the invariant nature of physics, which I think is very beautiful.”

The researchers detected the quasiperiodicity in the signals from both the joint Japanese and NASA Suzaku and the ESA’s XMM Newton orbiting observatories. To confirm that the signal was not just noise, they created a power spectrum of the signals, which involved counting the number of photons the telescopes received from the source as a function of time. It’s a way to quantify slight fluctuations in the light that might not otherwise be detectable. Their power spectrum confirmed the existence of the quasiperiodic oscillations in the signal. The event was originally detected with NASA’s Swift Gamma-ray Burst Telescope operated by Goddard Space Flight Center.

The paper is titled “A 200 s quasi-periodicity following the tidal disruption of a star by a dormant black hole.” The work was funded by NASA.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: astronomy; nasa; science; stringtheory
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... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
1 posted on 08/07/2012 3:26:26 PM PDT by null and void
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To: null and void
the last gasps of a star falling victim

Let me know when the MSM decides to anthropomorphize the "blob of cells" that some people call "a baby".

2 posted on 08/07/2012 3:30:02 PM PDT by ClearCase_guy (Roger Taney? Not a bad Chief Justice. John Roberts? A really awful Chief Justice.)
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To: null and void

That scream will be the reaction of their football team after playing Alabama in a few weeks.


3 posted on 08/07/2012 3:31:42 PM PDT by alancarp (Liberals are all for shared pain... until they're included in the pain group.)
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To: null and void

Darn! You beat me to it.


4 posted on 08/07/2012 3:31:42 PM PDT by Bryanw92 (Sic semper tyrannis)
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To: null and void

Horton hears a “Who?”


5 posted on 08/07/2012 3:32:00 PM PDT by Not now, Not ever! (Girlfriend suggested I use pelosi in place of swear words, A good idea, I think)
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To: null and void
an·thro·po·mor·phism/ˌanTHrəpəˈmôrˌfizəm/

Noun: The attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.

6 posted on 08/07/2012 3:33:21 PM PDT by DManA
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To: Bryanw92

With some thread titles the jokes just write themselves.


7 posted on 08/07/2012 3:33:41 PM PDT by elcid1970 (Nuke Mecca now. Death to Islam means freedom for all mankind. Deus vult!)
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To: ClearCase_guy

>>Let me know when the MSM decides to anthropomorphize the “blob of cells” that some people call “a baby”.

They’ll anthropomorphize animals, planets, and even stars, but until that blob of cells starts voting Democrat, it is nothing to them.


8 posted on 08/07/2012 3:33:55 PM PDT by Bryanw92 (Sic semper tyrannis)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: null and void

Star Wars?


10 posted on 08/07/2012 3:35:04 PM PDT by BigCinBigD (...Was that okay?)
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To: null and void
UM Scientists Hear ‘Scream’ As Star Is Devoured By Black Hole

It was warned to stay away from Detroit.
11 posted on 08/07/2012 3:35:59 PM PDT by cripplecreek (What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?)
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To: null and void

The movie was wrong?

12 posted on 08/07/2012 3:36:28 PM PDT by Pollster1 (Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. - Ronald Reagan)
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To: null and void
It's just Shatner chewing the curtains again...


13 posted on 08/07/2012 3:36:48 PM PDT by Hunton Peck (This too, shall pass, unless we're in Harry Reid's Senate and "this" is a budget.)
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To: null and void
"... as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."

A disturbance in the Force?

14 posted on 08/07/2012 3:40:22 PM PDT by YHAOS (you betcha!)
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To: null and void
Scientists Hear ‘Scream’ As Star Is Devoured By Black Hole

Hopefully, this will also happen in Hollywood as Obama's tax policies kick in.
15 posted on 08/07/2012 3:41:21 PM PDT by WorkingClassFilth (I'm for Churchill in 1940!)
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To: null and void

AN “ultra-low D-sharp”??

HOW do they know that’s not the black hole BURPING???;)


16 posted on 08/07/2012 3:42:56 PM PDT by Frank_2001
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To: null and void

Ah...the answer to the age old qustion, do falling stars scream.

Next up, if a tree fall in the forrest.....


17 posted on 08/07/2012 3:43:11 PM PDT by Las Vegas Ron (Medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism)
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To: Bryanw92

They might start registering them as voters. Don’t give them any ideas.


18 posted on 08/07/2012 3:47:50 PM PDT by RichInOC (No! BAD Rich! (What'd I say?))
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To: Frank_2001
:-D )))

Excellent.

19 posted on 08/07/2012 3:49:02 PM PDT by RichInOC (No! BAD Rich! (What'd I say?))
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To: ClearCase_guy
Let me know when the MSM decides to anthropomorphize the "blob of cells" that some people call "a baby".

First thought in my mind as well. They care more about a screaming star then a the pain felt by an aborted baby.

20 posted on 08/07/2012 3:50:58 PM PDT by madison10
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