Scientists and Astrologists have been able to ‘hear’ a black hole consuming a star. They can hear wobbles in the energy produced, which Rubens Reis, the discoverer, has begun to call ‘sounds’. She says ‘4.8mHz would be a very low D-sharp, slightly out of tune’ which is a more relatable description of what they can detect. “We are able to metaphorically hear a star being devoured by a super-massive black hole,”, which is pretty incredible.
But, recently, they have detected these ‘sounds’ further away than ever before. The wobbles have previously only been detected in much closer black holes. This shows that black holes consume stars in the same way, no matter their size; 10 suns to 100 suns. Reis says “For me, that is a rather beautiful thing”.
The black hole aforementioned it called Swift J1644+57, and was spotted on March 28th last year. It was spotted by NASA’s Swift telescope, and it also detected bursts of gamma rays from a part of the universe that had previously been rather ‘quiet’. These gamma rays show that a ‘previously dormant’ black hole came back to life, and began consuming a star that came too close.
Astronomers have actually seen these wobbles before, but never in black holes that were bigger than a few suns, and that aren’t within our own galaxy. This black hole, however, is ‘supermassive’, and is around 4.5 billion light years away. It is also the mass of 10 million suns, which is larger than they have ever been detected wobbles from before.