The immense power of a supermassive black hole’s gravity pulled in a star, ripped it to shreds and then ate it, researchers said.
Scientists Miguel Perez-Torres, of the Astrophysical Institute of Andalusia in Granada, Spain, and Seppo Mattila, of the University of Turku in Finland, staffed with a team of 36 scientists, were surprised when they caught the supermassive black hole in the act while observing the galaxy through radio and infrared telescopes.
The black hole, positioned between colliding galaxies called Arp 299 more than 150 million light-years away, is 20 million times larger than the sun. The star the black hole ate was more than twice the sun’s mass, according to the scientists.
This is the first time scientists have witnessed this type of astronomical event.
“Never before have we been able to directly observe the formation and evolution of a jet from one of events,” Perez-Torres said in a statement, referring to the jets of material that spew out of the star at the speed of light when its ripped apart.
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SOURCE: USA Today, Lilly Price