TECH

Scientists Thought They Saw A Supernova, Was Actually A Black Hole Causing Mass Destruction

Don't get too close.

13/12/2016 12:20 GMT

We all make mistakes, even scientists it seems.

A team from the European Southern Observatory have revealed that what they thought they witnessed back in 2015, actually seems to be a different intergalactic phenomenon all together. 

European Southern Observatory

Last year, a sighting of the brightest supernova ever in history – known as ASASSN-15lh - was recorded in a distant galaxy about four billion light-years from our planet. 

This particular supernova - a massive star exploding at the end of it’s life span - was special because it was twice as bright as the previous record holder and at it’s peak was twenty times brighter than the entire light output of the Milky Way.

Yes, you read that correctly. 

However the “extraordinarily brilliant” point of light has actually turned out to be something even more extreme and rare than this record-smashing supernova – a rapidly spinning black hole ripping apart a passing star that came too close.

Looking at evidence collected from the Very Large telescope in Chile’s Atacama desert, and NASA’s Hubble space telescope, the black hole theory now seems far more likely, according to the researchers.  

Giorgso Leloudas said: “We observed the source for ten months [following the bright flash of light] and have concluded that the explanation is unlikely to lie with an extraordinarily bright supernova.

“Our results indicate that the event was probably caused by a rapidly spinning supermassive black hole as it destroyed a low-mass star.”

The black hole thought to be involved in the event is approximately 100 million times the mass of the sun and the gravitational pull that this size exerts ripped the star molecule from molecule in a tidal disruption event.

The astronomical force exerted here then caused the star to be ‘spaghettified’ and shocks in the colliding debris as well as the intense heat generated are what subsequently lead to the blinding burst of light that was seen on earth.