Space & Astronomy
Black hole is observed 'swallowing' a star
By T.K. Randall
December 13, 2016 · 18 comments
The star wouldn't have stood a chance. Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 ESO/M. Kornmesser
Astronomers at Queen's University, Belfast have helped to discover an extremely rare celestial event.
The research had started out as an effort to identity the nature and origins of an "extraordinarily brilliant" light in the distant universe that US scientists had believed to be an exploding star.
As it turned out however, the light had actually come from a star that had wandered in to the path of a large spinning black hole and was torn to pieces by its extreme gravitational forces.
The black hole in question is thought to be over 100 million times the mass of the Sun.
When the star got too close it was ripped apart by what is known as a "tidal disruption event" before being "spaghettified" - a term used to describe what happens to matter under such conditions.
Some of the matter was converted in to light - thus explaining the bright light originally observed.
"This gave the event the appearance of a very bright supernova explosion, even though the star would not have become a supernova on its own as it did not have enough mass," the team wrote.
Source: BBC News
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