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A red giant star that wandered too close to the centre of a galaxy 2.7 billion light years away was pulled in by the enormous gravity of the black hole - and shredded.
It's the first time an observatory has seen a known star ripped apart in this way.
Using several ground- and space-based telescopes, a team of astronomers led by Suvi Gezari of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., identified the victim as a star rich in helium gas.
Astronomers think the bloated star was looping around the black hole in a highly elliptical orbit, similar to a comet’s elongated orbit around the Sun. On one of its close approaches, the star was stripped of its puffed-up atmosphere by the black hole’s powerful gravity. The stellar remains continued its journey around the center, until it ventured even closer to the black hole to face its ultimate demise.
Supermassive black holes, weighing millions to billions times more than the Sun, lurk in the centers of most galaxies.
These hefty monsters lie quietly until an unsuspecting victim, such as a star, wanders close enough to get ripped apart by their powerful gravitational clutches.
Originally posted by Gwampo
reply to post by ollncasino
I have never seen anything like that in my life!
‘The longer the event lasted, the more excited we got, because we realized this is either a very unusual supernova or an entirely different type of event, such as a star being ripped apart by a black hole,’ said team member Armin Rest of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.