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Space Science

Supermassive Black Hole Destroying Proto Star System 67

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sucks-to-live-there dept.
astroengine writes "A new analysis of recent observations finds evidence for a protoplanetary disk around a red dwarf star plunging in the direction of the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Ruth Murray-Clay and Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics did the theoretical work. Stefan Gillessen of the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics made the observations using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. The red dwarf star will make its closest approach in the summer of 2013, hurtling only 270 billion miles from black hole. (Or roughly 54 solar system diameters, as measured from the furthest edge of the Kuiper belt.) It won't get sucked into the black hole, but it will be flung back along its elliptical orbit out to a distance of a little more than 1/10 light-years."
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Supermassive Black Hole Destroying Proto Star System

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  • by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @10:58AM (#41464277) Homepage Journal

    This sounds like orbit not destruction. It's like how the earth and moon can orbit the sun without being destroyed. I'm sure some of the details will help with measuring the effect of the black hole, but this is sensationalized to an absurd degree.

    • Re:Orbit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rotaluclac (561178) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:07AM (#41464397) Homepage

      If the orbit comes close enough to the black hole, and if the protoplanetary disc is large enough, tidal effects will destroy the protoplanetary disc.

      Question is: why hasn't this destruction happened at the previous closest pass of the black hole?

      • Maybe because it's going closer and closer every time?
      • Re:Orbit (Score:4, Funny)

        by theurge14 (820596) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:32AM (#41464695)

        Because ALIENS.

      • by AmeerCB (1222468)

        If the orbit comes close enough to the black hole, and if the protoplanetary disc is large enough, tidal effects will destroy the protoplanetary disc.

        Question is: why hasn't this destruction happened at the previous closest pass of the black hole?

        From TFA:

        "The star was likely formed in the stellar ring and later thrown into its highly eccentric orbit though a close encounter with one or more stars in the ring. The stars exchanged momentum and the red dwarf was tossed onto a new, deadly trajectory. "

        So, even though they're calling it an "orbit," it was likely not on this trajectory before and this is the first time it's getting close enough to the black hole for the disc to be affected. Also, the disc is already being destroyed: "But the dama

    • I want to know why the scientists keep making these giant supermassive super destructive black holes. Surely when there is starvation in the world there are more peaceful goals they could be striving for?!
    • by ackthpt (218170)

      This sounds like orbit not destruction. It's like how the earth and moon can orbit the sun without being destroyed. I'm sure some of the details will help with measuring the effect of the black hole, but this is sensationalized to an absurd degree.

      Each time the star passes it probably loses just a wee bit of mass and looks egg shaped. I'd pay to see that, but it would probably be a fatal experience.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      This sounds like orbit not destruction. It's like how the earth and moon can orbit the sun without being destroyed.

      Bad analogy disproves your point, as the solar system is fundamentally chaotic [wikipedia.org]. Consider, for example, the Nice Model [wikipedia.org].

      Just because it won't be destroyed next Tuesday, or even next galactic year, doesn't mean it won't be snuffed out well before its time in a cosmic time frame.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        In nothing that's freely accessible can I see what extrapolation algorithm was used in those models. I've run multi-megayear solar system simulations, and I've seen all the crazy stuff mentioned happen. But that was while I was using crappy 2nd-order extrapolation algorithms. Once I switched to 4th-order Runge Kutta or higher, almost all those curiosities disappeared. Which implies that what's being seen is instabilities (and thence chaos) in the numerical methods as much as instabilities in the solar syste
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pfftt... other world problems.

  • by Nemesisghost (1720424) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @11:05AM (#41464391)

    I propose that we protect these infant stars from the destructive forces of black holes by making it illegal for black holes to be within 1 parsec from any newly forming stars. As an added precaution, they should also stay away from all nebulae and other entities which have the potential to form stars at any time in the future. Help Stop Proto-Star Destruction by calling your congressman/woman today & demanding they pass HR-1@M@N1D01T.

  • What's with the religious nonsense in the last paragraphs? It has nothing to do with the finding at all.

  • He's DESTROYING a proto STAR SYSTEM!

  • Time... (Score:4, Funny)

    by MachineShedFred (621896) on Wednesday September 26, 2012 @01:11PM (#41465853) Journal

    The red dwarf star will make its closest approach in the summer of 2013

    Hate to get pedantic, but didn't this actually happen tens of thousands of years ago (if not millions), and the light show will only get to us in the summer of 2013?

    • Hate to get pedantic, but

      I propose an alternative and opposite theory that you actually love to get pedantic.

    • No, it actually didn't. I mean, sure from the Dwarf planet's perspective this happened when the Earth still had no sapient species, but from where we sit it happens in the future.

  • All of the universe's problems are attributed to excessive carbon dioxide according to the BBC.

  • ...but I have a question for them:
    Is it theoretically possible that a star could slingshot around galactic-center black hole and (either through the basic slingshot, or a combination of that plus frame-dragging by the spinning black hole) come out with near-c or higher velocities?

    What would happen to it?

    Given the number of stars constantly plunging into the holes that are (apparently) at the heart of every galaxy, and a timescale of billions of years, wouldn't it be almost certain that this HAS happened?

  • What kinds of phenomena are astronomers expecting to see as a result of this event? Specifically, I'm wondering about the matter falling from the proto-planetary disk into the black hole gravity well. What will it reveal about black hole features? Will be able to get more precise information about the mass, rotation and magnetic field? Will it be possible to test/verify predictions of relativity or string theory? I am under the impression that there are gaps in the understanding of how the axial jets form

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