A star 215 million light-years away has been obliterated by a supermassive black hole, making it the closest observation to date of stellar spaghettification.
Spaghettification doesn’t sound very scientific, but it’s a fairly accurate description of what actually happens.
A doomed star caught in the orbit of a supermassive black hole will eventually hit a kind of gravitational sweet spot that turns everything to shit. No longer capable of keeping its physical integrity, the star begins to rapidly collapse in a process known as a fast-evolving tidal disruption event. When this happens, stellar debris bursts out from the star, forming a long, thin stream, half of which gets sucked toward the black hole; the other half is blown back into space. The thin stream eventually catches up to and slams into itself, releasing energy and
Oct. 1 (UPI) — Using the Very Large Telescope, a powerful observatory in Chile, astronomers have identified six galaxies trapped in the web of a supermassive black hole when the universe was just 900 million years old.
The discovery, described Thursday in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, helps explain how supermassive black holes got so big so soon after the Big Bang.
“This research was mainly driven by the desire to understand some of the most challenging astronomical objects — supermassive black holes in the early universe,” lead study author Marco Mignoli said in a news release.
“These are extreme systems and to date we have had no good explanation for their existence,” said Mignoli, an astronomer at the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy.
The findings lend support to the theory that web-like structures of gas fueled the rapid growth of supermassive black holes in the early universe. When
The first billion years of the universe was about as chaotic as Tuesday’s first presidential debate. Galaxies were forming, gas was flowing… It was a real time. While we won’t want to look back on Tuesday too often, we do like to look back in time. And, in a cosmic sense, Earth is perfectly positioned to do so. Because of how long it takes light to travel across the universe, our telescopes can pick up the faint signals of what life was like in the universe’s very early days.
On Thursday, astronomers announced the discovery of a massive, intriguing structure from when the universe was just 900 million years old. The structure, about 300 times the size of the Milky Way, contains a supermassive black hole that has ensnared six