|Supermassive black hole|
Super massive black holes can grow still bigger by ripping apart double-star systems and swallowing on of the stars, says a new astrophysical study.
"Black holes are very efficient eating machine. They can double their mass in less than a billion years. That may seem long by human standards, but over the history of the galaxy, it is pretty fast. "This has got to be the dominant method for growing super massive black holes" believes Benjamin Bromley of the University of Utah, who led the study reports The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Their works follows up on the 2005 discovery, by a team of CfA astronomers led by warren Brown, of hyper velocity stars - stars that were flung out of the galactic center by gravitational forces and are travelling fast enough to escape the Milky Way. Hyper-velocity stars can travel tens of thousands of times as fast as a bullet. They originated from a binary star system that wander too close to the Milky Way's central black hole. Tidal forces capture one star and eject the other.
The star that is captured into orbit around the black hole later becomes fodder for the galactic monster. As many as half of all the stars ate in binary pairs. The new study looked at each step in the process of a super massive black hole eater binary stars, and calculated what would be required for the process t match observations.
Their theory shows that the Milky Way's super massive black hole has doubled to quadrupled in mass during th e past five billion to 10 billion years by eating stars.
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