April 25, 2013
Black Hole Eats a Super-Jupiter
Astronomers using ESA’s Integral and XMM-Newton space telescopes, NASA’s Swift and the MAXI (Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image) instrument on the International Space Station have made the first detection of a substellar object being disrupted by a black hole. The discovery was made in the 47 million-light-year-distant galaxy, NGC 4845, where a substellar object moving through space encountered the black hole. During this encouter, debris becomes heated and emits a blast of X-ray radiation before fading away. The object lies in the mass range of 14–30 Jupiter masses, corresponding to either a brown dwarf or a large gas planet.