An artist's impression of an intermediate-mass black hole tearing apart a wayward star that passed too close. Inside, they explain, there would be a black hole that recently had the opportunity to sit at the table.
The tidal disruption will lead to the release of X-ray energy glow as the start is being consumed by the intermediate-mass black hole. According to the James Webb Space Telescope website, it is now the largest observatory that NASA has created. "That is what Hubble has allowed us to do for our candidate", said Dacheng Lin of the University of New Hampshire, principal investigator of the study.
The story of the discovery reads like a Sherlock Holmes story, entailing the thorough step-by-step case-building necessary to capture the perpetrator. But the X-ray emitted when they devour a star allows them to detect. The position of the 3XMM gave it a confirmation of an IMBH since it was not found in the center of the galaxy but another possible source from the X-ray flare had to be dismissed. Neutron celebrities are the crushed residues of an exploded star.
The astronomers were able to observe the black hole in-action as it tore apart and consumed a star.
Hubble showed that the signal appeared in the star cluster on the edge of the galaxy. The accretion disk is considered the point of no return for light or other objects to escape a black hole's gravity.
Astronomers, therefore, have to catch an IMBH red-handed in the relatively rare act of gobbling up a star. There have been a few other IMBHs found till date. For reference, a black hole of this size has a mass of approximately 50,000 suns. "This is much more reliable than using X-ray luminosity alone as typically done before for previous IMBH candidates", said Lin. "This helps us to understand the type of star that was disrupted by the black hole", said team member Natalie Webb of the Universite de Toulouse in France. The X-rays originate from a hot increase disk around the black hole. Do they always occur within dense star clusters?
There are different types of black holes in the Universe: those of stellar-mass formed by the collapse of a massive star, and supermassive, with masses equivalent to millions or billions of suns. Dr Lin and his colleagues plan to continue to investigate.
Lin says that there are still more questions to be pursued. Does a supermassive black hole grow from an IMBH? Employing applied material science, they were able to create this specially designed telescope, which can fold itself into a compact formation, which is smaller compared to the fully deployed form of the observatory. Are dense star clusters their favored home? "This is a great achievement and an inspiring image for the entire team", stated Lee Feinberg, optical telescope component supervisor for Webb at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.