Ultra-Bright Burst of Light Marks the Death Throes of a Star Being Eaten Alive

Friday, June 17, 2011 - 15:30 in Astronomy & Space

Getting Pulled In University of WarwickCosmic explosion was not a typical gamma-ray burst Astronomers have solved the mystery of a gargantuan cosmic explosion first spotted in March: A black hole did it, by killing and eating a star the size of our sun. A couple months ago, we told you about an unusually bright and long-lasting blast of energy emanating from the center of a galaxy 3.8 billion light-years away in the constellation Draco. At first, astronomers thought it was a gamma-ray burst from a collapsing star, but when it kept shining in a variable pattern (brightening and fading) scientists realized it wasn't your average GRB. Astronomer Joshua Bloom at the University of California-Berkeley suspected it was a high-energy jet produced as a sun-sized star fell into a black hole and was torn to pieces. Bloom and researchers from several other institutions in the US and UK started analyzing data...

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