Scientists, using NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, have discovered a black hole that is continuously snacking on a star that is similar to our Sun. Located in a galaxy around 500 million light-years away from Earth, the black hole’s constant nibbling on the star, a phenomenon known as a tidal disruption event, creates a bright burst of light. This burst of light subsequently lit up the galaxy, which allowed for its discovery.
The black hole and tidal disruption event — referred to as Swift J023017.0+283603, or Swift J0230 for short — is only one part of this story, though, as the discovery was made using a new groundbreaking data analysis method from Swift’s X-ray telescope (XRT) instrument. The technique will allow for a new era of science from Swift, which is a three-telescope space observatory designed to observe highly energetic cosmic phenomena at multiple wavelengths.