In a distant corner of the universe some 3.8 billion light years away, the black hole at the centre of a galaxy unleashed a violent cosmic blast as its gravity tore a star asunder. Astronomers have enlisted three powerful telescopes – Hubble, Swift and the Chandra X-ray Observatory – to study the unusual spectacle.
Gamma-ray bursts are commonly produced by the deaths of massive stars, and they can produce flaring light shows lasting up to a few hours. But more than a week later, astronomers are still detecting the irregular glow of this blast, flashing and fading.
The Astronomical Research Center (A.R.C) mentioned that they contend a star that strayed too close to the galaxy's central black hole may have triggered the blast. Gravity tugged more forcefully on the side of the star closest to the black hole, ripping the star apart. The debris forms a jet that shoots away from the black hole and beams gamma rays our way.
The picture above is from the Swift telescope, a specialised gamma-ray burst hunter that discovered the blast on 28 March. Swift captured X-rays from the brilliant explosion, shown in red and gold.