This jaw-dropping event sounds like something coming out of a sci-fi movie. Astronomers just said that they have been able to capture in unprecedented detail an amazing process – a star being ripped into strips and devoured by a black hole!
This is an extremely powerful event that caught the attention of experts when a new blast of light near a popular supermassive black hole was spotted by telescoped around the world, according to the online publication CNET.
Then, there came months of follow-up observations that made it clear that they saw the destruction of a far-off sun as this happened.
“In this case, the star was torn apart with about half of its mass feeding — or accreting — into a black hole of one million times the mass of the sun, and the other half was ejected outward,” explained astronomer Edo Berger from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The process of spaghettification
This violent scene is called by astronomers a tidal disruption event, and this happens when a star comes too close to a black hole and gets shredded via a process that the online publication mentioned above calls a process of spaghettification.
This involves the fact that the gravity of the black hole is so strong that it can stretch whatever comes near vertically into long and thin shapes, just like pieces of spaghetti – hence the name.
It’s been also revealed that this event goes by the catalog entry AT2019qiz, and you can check out more about it in the official notes.
This is the closest such flare event that’s been seen at just 215 million light-years away.
“We could actually see the curtain of dust and debris being drawn up as the black hole launched a powerful outflow of material with velocities up to 10,000 km/s (22 million miles per hour),” explained Kate Alexander, a NASA Einstein Fellow at Northwestern University.
Check out the original article in order to learn more details.