This sequence of artist's illustrations shows how a black hole can devour a bypassing star. 1. A normal star passes near a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy. 2. The star's outer gasses are pulled into the black hole's gravitational field. 3. The star is shredded as tidal forces pull it apart. 4. The stellar remnants are pulled into a donut-shaped ring around the black hole, and will eventually fall into the black hole, unleashing a tremendous amount of light and high-energy radiation. (PHOTO COURTESY OF NASA)
LOS ANGELES – Astronomers using NASA's Hubble space telescope have recorded a star's final moments in detail as it gets gobbled up by a black hole.
Astronomers are using Hubble to find out the details of what happens when a wayward star plunges into the gravitational abyss, said NASA on Thursday.
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About 100 tidal disruption events around black holes have been detected by astronomers using various telescopes. NASA reported that several of its high-energy space observatories spotted another black hole tidal disruption event on March 1 of 2021, and it happened in another galaxy.
Unlike Hubble observations, data was collected in X-ray light from an extremely hot corona around the black hole that formed after the star was already torn apart, according to NASA.
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For any given galaxy with a quiescent supermassive black hole at the center, it is estimated that the stellar shredding happens only a few times in every 100,000 years, according to NASA.