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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Star Gulp Gives Black Hole Indigestion
24 August 2011 1:00 pm
A giant black hole in the constellation Draco bit off more than it could chew. On 25 March, NASA's Swift satellite detected an x-ray flare when a black hole 3.9 billion light-years from Earth tore a passing star to shreds. The flare arose because friction and gravity roasted the star's remains and made them glow brilliantly before the black hole swallowed them. Now, as astronomers report online today in Nature, the x-ray data as well as radio observations indicate the fireworks caused a narrow jet of material to shoot away from the black hole's outskirts. Similar jets emerge from other black holes, but this is the first time that astronomers have witnessed the birth of one. The black hole in Draco resides at the center of a far-off galaxy and is about the same size as the 4-million-solar-mass black hole marking the Milky Way's heart. Although our galaxy's black hole is currently quiet, this discovery means just one wayward star can spark a spectacle.
See more ScienceShots.