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Supermassive Black Hole Destroying Proto Star System

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the sucks-to-live-there dept.

Space 67

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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67 comments

We are not a-Mused (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464257)

First post to pre-empt and spoil any crappy Muse jokes :-P

Orbit (2)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464277)

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 (5, Interesting)

Rotaluclac (561178) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464397)

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?

Re:Orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466301)

Perhaps the star didn't have a proto-planetary disc at that time?

How log does an orbit like that take to complete one cycle?

Re:Orbit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41467285)

There are quite a few stars in the area around that black hole. It wouldn't be surprising if they are interacting with each other preventing any long term orbital stability.

Re:Orbit (2)

AmeerCB (1222468) | about a year and a half ago | (#41467329)

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 damage is already happening. The protoplanetary disk is disintegrating under the black hole's tidal pull -- stretching the disk like taffy. Add to that a withering blast of ultraviolet radiation from the black hole that is heating and driving off material in the disk."

Re:Orbit (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464563)

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?!

Re:Orbit (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464629)

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.

Re:Orbit (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464845)

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.

Re:Orbit (1)

fatphil (181876) | about a year and a half ago | (#41470037)

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 system being modeled. Numerical computing is hard, there are many many gotchas like these. The academics refered to in those wiki pages that claim to have run their own models consistently do not provide the single piece of information that will let me judge whether their paper should be binned without reading.

"destroying" (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464289)

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."

So, not destroying it, then?

Re:"destroying" (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464979)

Destroying, yes. The star may survive, but the accretion disk that would form planets is being ripped to shreds by the massive tidal forces and radiation from the black hole, and therefore the system is in fact being destroyed. Also the star will probably be ripped apart eventually too, but that is speculation on my part.

light years (-1, Troll)

AshFan (879808) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464309)

Light years is a measure of time, not distance.

Re:light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464385)

Uh, yes. Who implied it was a measure of time?

Re:light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464399)

Not really. In common usage, it's really light per year - or, the distance light travels in one year. In the same way, miles per hour is a measure of distance as well - it's how far you travel in a given amount of time.

Re:light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41507581)

Miles per hour is speed.

Light Years = C/Y (*Y given in seconds)
Distance = (mph)/t (*t given in hours)
And light years is a shady concept by itself.

Re:light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464439)

Yeah, not like its possible to determine how far light will travel in a year's time....wait a sec...

Re:light years (1)

RMingin (985478) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464809)

I know you're trolling, so I'm the pedant who takes the bait.

Light-year: The distance covered by light in one year in a vacuum.

Very much distance, not time.

Re:light years (2)

James McGuigan (852772) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464815)

A light year is the distance it takes light to travel one year:
    | 0.3066013938 pc (parsecs)
    | 63241.07708 AU (astronomical units)
    | 9.461×10^12 km (kilometers)
    | 9.461×10^15 meters
    | 5.879 trillion miles

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=light+year [wolframalpha.com]

Though according to general relativity spacetime is 4 dimensional and the distance between two events can be measured in interchangeable units of space and time measured in light-years or light seconds.

We all travel through spacetime at the speed of light, in the direction of time, but when we start to travel in the space direction at a fraction of the speed of light, we still travel at the speed of of light, but as an angle in space time, like the hypotenuse (long side) of a triangle using Pythagoras' equation (a^2 + b^2 = c^2), with part of our direction in time and part of our direction in space. This accounts for most of the weirdness experienced with time dilation and dimensions appearing to shorten (the object is partially rotated into the time dimension).

Re:light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466327)

Thats the last time I base a comment on something I heard on "The Big Bang Theory".

Re:light years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466819)

your dimensions are like x, y, z, and j*c*t.

if you treat real time as a real dimension, you get - all over the place fucking with your euclidean norms.

Re:light years (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41469493)

From my understanding, you just described Euclidean relativity and not general relativity.

But I'm not a physicist and special relativity is really about as far as I have grasped significantly. I understand Einstein's formulation of special relativity to say that Minkowski's definition of spacetime, which is opposed to Euclidean spacetime, matches more closely with observations. But a quick Google search seems to indicate that there is a growing set of theories that suggest that relativity and Euclidean spacetime can work cohesively, and that Euclidean spacetime is not just a framework for Newtonian physics.

Pfftt... other world problems. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464325)

Pfftt... other world problems.

Re:Pfftt... other world problems. (-1, Troll)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464639)

Pfftt... other world problems.

Careful, Mitt will sieze this opportunity to criticize lack of a proper policy in dealing with this matter, too.

Re:Pfftt... other world problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464877)

Please just shut up. I'm so sick of hearing this kind of bullshit. Can we please leave science article to science and not political banter? For once? Please?

SETI need to look! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464359)

Now, if SETI were to turn their gaze in that direction, this would be a great moment to learn the alien phrase for "Ohhhh Shiiiitttt!".

Proto-Star Protection Legislation (4, Funny)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Proto-Star Protection Legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41465139)

How about a compromise. No central galactic black hole is allowed to destroy a protoplanetary system without first having the Hubble Space Telescope image the system, counseling from a Starfleet approved Empath, and a mandatory 10 million year waiting period.

Re:Proto-Star Protection Legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466617)

Hey, if they didn't want to get destroyed, they wouldn't have went out orbiting in a slutty protoplantary disc, crossing those immodest Roche limits, etc, etc.

Besides, I'm sure red dwarfs have ways of keeping black holes from destroying them.

Re:Proto-Star Protection Legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466649)

If there's gas giants on the golidlocks zone....play ball?

Black ho (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464477)

Be suckin' up all my Cheetos! Then she flings them out her anus

Hooray because (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464551)

SCIENCE IS AWESOME

mumbo jumbo (1)

Taibhsear (1286214) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464685)

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

Cat got my tongue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464711)

At least it's not a white hole.

Re:Cat got my tongue (1)

vlm (69642) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464997)

Supermassive Black Hole Destroying Proto Star System

Naughty goatse, no soup for you

Re:Cat got my tongue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41465529)

So what is it?

Don't Believe The Lie (0)

ronpaulisanidiot (2529418) | about a year and a half ago | (#41464895)

There is no black hole destroying a star system, that is for-sure. Black holes are just something fabricated by government employees (physicists) to distract you from the truth. The star system is being destroyed by the government itself, make no mistake of it. Only through the power of the free market could it ever be restored, as the free market is itself perfect.

The same will play out in the united stated without a doubt, unless ron paul is elected.

Blackhole or ... Galacticus... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41464999)

Discuss :(

punishment for all the gays (-1, Troll)

bazorg (911295) | about a year and a half ago | (#41465137)

imagine how many gay people they have on that solar system to cause such wrath...

Muse found to be the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41465169)

Band "Muse" found to be the cause of this destruction.

Time... (3, Funny)

MachineShedFred (621896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41465853)

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?

Re:Time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466613)

Hate to get pedantic, but

Sorry, nope. Nothing travels faster than light, not even information. So even if "it's already happened to them" standing on their surface, it hasn't happened to them for us standing on our surface.

Or if you'd like to go there and check, I'll wait right here for you.

Re:Time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466681)

26000 years, +/-1500

Re:Time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41469371)

It is pedantic because it's so obvious to everyone that it does not need to be mentioned.

Re:Time... (1)

benhattman (1258918) | about a year and a half ago | (#41478809)

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.

Global warming to speed Proto Star's demise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41466051)

A recent study shows that global warming, which results from human exhalations, will speed this process cutting millions of years off the life of this poor, poor Proto Start.

I am not an astrophysicist.... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41467405)

...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?

how i saw the headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41468977)

Supermassive Black Hole Destroying Protoss Star System

zerg and terran rejoice. are left to mull over the final war.

Re:how i saw the headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41471787)

Awesome!

Predictions about effects? (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about a year and a half ago | (#41473321)

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 when matter falls into a black hole. Will we detect jets, or is more mass needed?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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