News Release Archive:

News Release 261 of 1048

April 7, 2011 09:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2011-10

NASA Telescopes Join Forces to Observe Unprecedented Explosion


Image: Black Hole Eats Star (Annotated)

Black Hole Eats Star (Annotated) Artist's Concept

Screen-use options: These files are created for viewing on your monitor

Print-use download options: These files are designed to fit on letter-size paper

Highest-quality download options: The best resolution available


This diagram illustrates a possible explanation for a series of intense bursts of energy seen by the NASA Swift satellite's Burst Alert Telescope on March 28, 2011. Subsequent Hubble Space Telescope observations showed that the blasts originated from the center of a dwarf spheroidal galaxy located nearly 4 billion light-years away. The unusual string of powerful outbursts likely arose when a star wandered too close to its galaxy's central black hole, weighing perhaps as much as 1 million times the mass of our Sun. Intense gravitational tidal forces tore the star apart, and the infalling gas continues to stream toward the hole. The black hole formed a jet along its spin axis. Because the jet is pointed toward Earth, astronomers see a powerful blast of X-rays and gamma rays.

Image Type: Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI)


All images from this news release:

To access available information and downloadable versions of images in this news release, click on any of the images below: