Mohammad Habibullah Dulal
Black Hole Swallows a Neutron: Talk about a heavy snack. For the ﬁrst time, astronomers have witnessed a black hole swallowing a neutron start—the densest object in the universe — all in a split-second gulp. Ten days later they saw the same thing on the other side of the universe. In both cases, a neutron star — a teaspoon of which would weigh a billion tons — orbits ever closer to that ultimate point of no return, a black hole, until they ﬁnally crash together and the neutron star is gone in gobble. Astronomers witnessed the last 500 orbits before the neutron stars were swallowed, a process that took far less than a minute and brieﬂy generated as much energy as all the visible light in the observable universe.” It was just a big quick [gulp], gone,” said study co-author Patrick Brady, an astrophysicist at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. The black hole “gets a nice dinner of a neutron star and makes itself just a little bit more massive.”
This is an artistic image inspired by a black hole-neutron star merger event, which was witnessed by astronomers in the form of gravitational waves set off by the event. (Carl Knox/OzGrav/Swinburne)The bursts of energy from the collisions were discovered when detectors on Earth spotted the mergers gravitational waves, cosmic energetic ripples soaring through space and time as ﬁrsttheorized by Albert Einstein. They each came from more than one billion light-years away. The waves were detected in January of 2020, but the study analyzing and interpreting the data by more than 100 scientists was published Tuesday inAstrophysical Journal Letters.
A ﬁrst for this combo: While astronomers had seen gravitational waves fromtwo black holes collidingwith each other andtwo neutron stars colliding with each other, this is the ﬁrst time they saw one of each crashing together.
Neutron stars are corpses of massive stars, what’s leftover after a big star dies in a supernova explosion. They are so dense that they have about 1.5 to two times the mass of our sun, but condensed to about 10 kilometerswide, Brady said. Some black holes, known as stellar black holes, are created when an even bigger star collapses into itself, creating something with such powerful gravity that not even light can escape.
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scientists think there should be many of these neutron stars and black hole pairings, but they’ve yet to ﬁnd one in our own galaxy.” This is very cool,” said Johns Hopkins University astrophysicist Marc Kamionkowski, who wasn’t part of the research. He said this will help astronomers predict how abundant these pairings are.
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