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Black Hole Rips Giant Planet

2 Apr 2013, 13:24 UTC
Black Hole Rips Giant Planet
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In January 2011, the European Space Agency’s INTEGRAL space observatory detected an X-ray flare from a nearby galaxy called NGC 4845. The X-ray flare is designated IGR J12580+0134 and follow-up observations were conducted using XMM-Newton (a space based X-ray observatory), Swift (a space observatory designed to study gamma-ray bursts) and MAXI (an X-ray monitoring device aboard the International Space Station). The light curve of J12580+0134 shows a rise to a maximum in a few weeks, followed by a gradual decrease over a year or so. A supernova explosion is unlikely to produce an X-ray flare like J12580+0134. This is because the peak X-ray luminosity of J12580+0134 is ~100 times larger than from a typical supernova and its subsequent decline in luminosity is too rapid to be consistent with a supernova.Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a star being tidally disrupted by a black hole.Tidal disruptions of objects by black holes have been extensively modeled and the decline in emission following peak luminosity tends to follow a power law with a characteristic slope of -5/3. It turns out that J12580+0134 indeed shows such a characteristic and is consistent with a tidal disruption event. As tidally disrupted matter plunges violently into the titanic ...

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