Confession: I’m one of those people who switches the channel during an Attenborough documentary when there’s a danger that the Lions are about to catch and eat the poor little antelope. Obviously, you don’t want the Lions to go hungry, and for their own cute little cubs to starve, but at the same time…. Is there nothing at all to be said for vegetables, guys?
This video is a bit like that. It was captured by various telescopes as it happened over a period of six months:
Telescopes have captured the rare light flash from a dying star as it was ripped apart by a supermassive black hole.
This rarely seen “tidal disruption event” — which creates spaghettification in stars as they stretch and stretch – is the closest such known event to happen, at only 215 million light-years from Earth. (For comparison, the nearest star system to Earth – Alpha Centauri — is roughly 4 light-years away, and the Milky Way is roughly 200,000 light years in diameter.) One light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
“The idea of a black hole ‘sucking in’ a nearby star sounds like science fiction. But this is exactly what happens in a tidal disruption event,” the new study’s lead author Matt Nicholl, a lecturer and Royal Astronomical Society research fellow at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, said in a European Southern Observatory statement. Researchers caught the event in action using numerous telescopes, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope and New Technology Telescope.
The star in question was the size of our sun. Was.
Watch as it just disappears: