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X-Ray signal from edge of a massive black hole





SonLight
The 'object' Swift J1644+57, discovered in March 2011 and believed to be a star, possibly a white dwarf, being torn apart by a massive black hole. Analysis of the signal shows a distinct pattern of matter being torn from the star and pulled into the black hole, This information was just released Aug 2, and is reported in:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/nsfc-oa080212.php

The signal originally showed a very complex pattern of increasing and decreasing. Apparently the new analysis should confirm the pattern proposed earlier by scientists, which assumes that portions of the star were pulled off during several orbits of the star.
kelseymh
SonLight wrote:
The 'object' Swift J1644+57, discovered in March 2011 and believed to be a star, possibly a white dwarf, being torn apart by a massive black hole. Analysis of the signal shows a distinct pattern of matter being torn from the star and pulled into the black hole, This information was just released Aug 2, and is reported in:

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-08/nsfc-oa080212.php

The signal originally showed a very complex pattern of increasing and decreasing. Apparently the new analysis should confirm the pattern proposed earlier by scientists, which assumes that portions of the star were pulled off during several orbits of the star.


Yes, this is really a fascinating object, and one of the annoyingly "unrepeatable" phenomena which we are lucky enough to have a good record of. The original SWIFT observation (2011) was a very bright X-ray flare with a non-blackbody spectrum, and a long light curve (time over which the flare dimmed). The structure was not consistent with most X-ray flares (accretion onto white dwarves or neutron stars).

The new data involves observation of bright, narrow X-ray bursts with a 200 second periodicity. If we assume that the bursts are coming from a blob of gas in orbit around something, that orbital period corresponds to a black hole with a mass of a few million solar masses (0.5 to 5 Mo).
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