It’s an incredible event that seems to be extracted straight from SF novels, but it doesn’t stray too far from the ordinary as far as science is concerned.
Astronomers claim that they could capture in unprecedented detail the process of a start getting ripped into strips and consumed by a black hole.
The intense phenomenon got scientists’ attention when a new blast of light near a famous supermassive black hole was noticed by telescopes across the globe.
Many months of follow-up observations made it evident that they observed the destruction of a far-off sun as it happened.
Astronomer Edo Berger from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics stated:
“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.”
The fantastic scene is a tidal disruption event, which occurs when a star gets too close to a black hole and gets shredded in a spaghettification process. The black hole’s gravity is so strong that it stretches whatever gets near vertically into long, thin shapes resembling spaghetti as it consumes it all.
The event was labeled as AT2019qiz, and it’s the nearest such event at 215 million light-years away. It was caught early enough that astronomers managed to get a mostly unobscured view of the whole process before a cloud of star insides covers the region in mist.
Kate Alexander, a NASA Einstein Fellow from Northwestern University, stated:
“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),”