There are some truly remarkable sights in the universe. And having a star ripped apart by a black hole is one of them.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A giant black hole displaying horrifying table manners has been caught in the act of guzzling a star in a galaxy 4 billion light-years away, scientists using an orbiting NASA telescope said on Tuesday.
For the past two years, scientists have monitored the dramatic events as the star, residing in a galaxy in the Bootes constellation, was ripped apart by the black hole.
Scientists used NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, an orbiting telescope sensitive to two bands of ultraviolet wave lengths, to detect an ultraviolet flare coming from the center of a remote elliptical galaxy.
“This ultraviolet flare was from a star literally being ripped apart and swallowed by the black hole,” Suvi Gezari of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and lead author of the paper describing the findings in Astrophysical Journal Letters, said in an interview.
“This is the first time that we’ve actually been able to monitor the flare of radiation from such an event in detail. Only once every 10,000 years will a star pass close enough to a (galaxy’s) central black hole to be ripped apart and swallowed in this manner,” Gezari said.
The black hole is the most terrifying object known to exist, simply because there’s no escape from it. And it’s so super-massive that it distorts the fabric of the universe– that’s wild. And the fact that humanity has found these objects through theory and observation is even more amazing.