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Thursday 14 December 2017

Catch a falling star, put it in a pocket. . .

John von Radowitz

A POWERFUL beam of energy that has crossed 3.8 billion light years of space was the last gasp of a star consumed and ripped apart by a massive black hole, scientists believe.

The bright flash of gamma rays was detected by the Swift satellite within the constellation of Draco.

At first astronomers thought it was a typical 'gamma ray burst' from a collapsing star, but closer inspection of the data revealed something far more interesting.

The high-energy jet was produced by a star about the size of the Sun being swallowed up by a black hole a million times more massive.

The event, known as Sw 1644+57, appeared to come from the centre of a galaxy nearly four billion light years away.

Dr Joshua Bloom, from the University of California at Berkeley, US, said: "The burst produced a tremendous amount of energy over a fairly long period of time, and the event is still going on more than two-and-a-half months later."

The discovery was reported online by the journal 'Science'.

Irish Independent

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