In a distant galaxy, a star escapes death in a black hole every 114 days

Flares appear at the center of ESO 253-3 approximately every 114 days. It is worth noting that the galaxy is

almost 600 million light years from Earth, which meansthese outbreaks also occurred almost 600 million years ago. And only now is the light about a distant galaxy available to scientists. It took him 570 million years to reach Earth.

In total, astrophysicists have counted 17 suchoutbreaks over six years of observations. They were discovered by instruments both on Earth and in space. The telescope for the discovery of exoplanets by the transit method (TESS) and Swift, the orbiting observatory, a joint project of the USA, Italy and the UK, were responsible for collecting data in space.

Outbreaks are likely due tosupermassive black hole in the center of the galaxy. This cosmic giant is about 20 times the size of the Sagittarius A * (Sgr A *) black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. For comparison: Sgr A * has a diameter of about 23.6 million km and about 4 million times the mass of the Sun.

The first of 17 flares was discovered on November 14, 2014 and was considered a supernova.

However, in 2020, scientists analyzed the dataProject All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASSAS-SN) over the past six years and identified more flares escaping the galaxy at regular intervals, with a difference of about 114 days. Based on these observations, scientists successfully predicted when subsequent outbreaks would occur in 2020: May 17, September 6, and December 26. They confirmed these events by observations from the Earth and in space.

The most likely explanation for recurringflares are tidal discontinuities in which the orbit of a star transports it so close to the black hole that parts of the star break off and are sucked into the accretion disk - a diffuse band of dust, gas and debris that orbits the black hole. Usually such events end with the complete destruction of the star. In the case of ESO 253-3, the orbit of a massive star could bring it close enough to the black hole for the star to lose some of its material, triggering a flare. But then the star slips away and runs away. The cycle repeats every time a star passes close enough to a black hole.

This image of the active galaxy ESO 253-3 wasobtained by the Multielement Spectroscopic Researcher of the European Space Observatory in the framework of the MUse Supernova (AMUSING) survey of the integral field of neighboring galaxies. ESO 253-3 displays the most predictable and frequent outbreaks that scientists have ever identified in an active galaxy. Image courtesy of Michael Tucker (University of Hawaii)

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