Friday, June 17, 2011

Black Hole Eats Star, Belches Gamma Rays

Like a bad sci-fi movie.  From UC Berkeley, reporting on a gamma ray burst event:

Black hole eats star, producing bright gamma-ray flash
 Robert Sanders, Media Relations  June 16, 2011BERKELEY —
A bright flash of gamma rays observed March 28 by the Swift satellite may have been the death rattle of a star falling into a massive black hole and being ripped apart, according to a team of astronomers led by the University of California, Berkeley.
When the Swift Gamma Burst Mission spacecraft first detected the flash within the constellation Draco, astronomers thought it was a gamma-ray burst from a collapsing star and designated it GRB 110328A. On March 31, however, UC Berkeley’s Joshua Bloom sent out an email circular suggesting that it wasn’t a typical gamma-ray burst at all, but a high-energy jet produced as a star about the size of our sun was shredded by a black hole a million times more massive.
Be glad that there aren't any big black holes in the neighborhood.  If it's big enough to eat a star the size of Sol, all the planets are just after dinner mints.

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