Monster Black Hole Caught Swallowing Unlucky Star
Call it a Cosmic Scene Investigation: For the first time, scientists have identified a stellar victim of a giant black hole — an unlucky star whose death may ultimately provide more clues on the inner workings of the enigmatic gravitational monster that devoured it.
Astronomers say supermassive black holes rip apart stars very rarely, maybe just once every 10,000 years per galaxy. To detect one such event, hundreds of thousands of galaxies were monitored in ultraviolet light with the space-based Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and in visible light with the Hawaii-based Pan-STARRS telescope.
The above is a computer-simulated image which shows gas from a tidally shredded star falling into a black hole. Some of the gas also is being ejected at high speeds into space.