Black Hole Caught in Act of Swallowing Star

By | August 28, 2011

This illustration steps through the events that scientists think likely resulted in Swift J1644+57.For the first time, a black hole has been caught in the act of tearing apart and swallowing a star that got too close.

Scientists, who until now had witnessed only the aftermath of such events, say the observation is shedding light on “relativistic jets,” bursts of matter that shoot out at nearly the speed of light.

At the centers of virtually all large galaxies are supermassive black holes. These monsters, which are millions to billions of times the mass of the sun, can rip apart passers-by, gravitationally pulling at stars in gigantic versions of how our moon tugs on Earth’s oceans to generate tides. …

via Black Hole Caught in Act of Swallowing Star | Black Holes, Stars & Galaxies | How Black Holes Form & Supermassive Black Holes | Space.com.

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