Black Hole Caught Devouring Star For An Entire Decade
“Normally lasting weeks or months, a new record has just been set for TDEs. XJ1500+0154, 1.8 billion light years away, is the largest, longest-lasting one ever seen. First detected in July of 2005, the X-rays from this distant source brightened by a factor of 100 over 3 years. They remain bright even today. Although dozens of TDEs have been observed since the 1990s, none have lasted this long. It may be caused by the most massive star ever observed creating a TDE.”
When any object passes too close to the event horizon of a black hole, the tidal forces acting on it can become so strong that they’ll tear the entire object apart in a spaghettification disaster. While most of the matter will get ejected from the encounter, a significant fraction can be accreted, absorbed and used to fuel the black hole’s growth. These tidal disruption events have been seen numerous times since the launch of our X-ray observatories, and are now known to come in a wide variety of magnitudes, at a variety of distances and to last a variable amount of time. So when you see the largest, longest-lasting one ever, you sit up and take notice! That’s exactly what’s happened with XJ1500+154, which is now in its second decade of X-ray signals.