Astronomers witness star being “turned into spaghetti” by black hole

Researchers found that when a star is "spaghettified" a blast of material is launched outwards (ESO)
Researchers found that when a star is “spaghettified” a blast of material is launched outwards (ESO)

Astronomers have witnessed the final moments of a star being devoured by a supermassive black hole – and it’s not pretty.

A blast of light from 215 million light years away from Earth allowed astronomers to study the “tidal disruption event” in unprecedented detail.

Stars that wander too close to vast supermassive black holes are shredded (“spaghettified”) into thin streams of material, which are in turn devoured, releasing flashes of light.

Matt Nicholl, a Royal Astronomical Society research fellow and lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said: “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.”

Read more: Astronomers find closest black hole to Earth

Thomas Wevers, a European Space Observatory (ESO) fellow in Santiago, Chile, said:

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Astronomers capture a black hole shredding star into spaghetti strands

  • Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory observed a black hole sucking in a faraway star, shredding it into thin strands of stellar material.
  • This process, known as “spaghettification,” happens because of black holes’ powerful gravitational force.
  • At 215 million light-years away, this spaghettification process is the closest ever observed by astronomers. 
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Astronomers have captured a rarely-seen event: a flare of light caused by a black hole devouring a nearby star like spaghetti.

Observed in the Eridanus constellation, about 215 million light-years away from Earth, the star’s destruction is the closest such event astronomers have ever observed. 

“When an unlucky star wanders too close to a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy, the extreme gravitational pull of the black hole shreds the star into thin streams of material,” study author Thomas Wevers, a fellow at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago,

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