U-M astronomers detect 'scream' of star sucked into black hole 3.9 billion light years away
The researchers used orbiting X-ray telescopes to detect oscillating blips —which, if they could be heard, would sound like an ultra-low D-sharp tone— that are believed to have emanated from the star before it was sucked into a previously dormant black hole.
U-M astronomers Rubens Reis and Jon Miller led a team of researchers that detected the signals while exploring the event after it was discovered by scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
"You can think of it as hearing the star scream as it gets devoured, if you like," Miller said of the phenomenon in a media release.
According to the U-M astronomers, scientists had never before identified the screaming star blips from such a far away galaxy. The event occurred in the northern constellation Draco the dragon.
"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 in the media release.
Reis and Miller published a paper on the detection this week in the scholarly journal Science Express.