Nasa watches as black hole eats a star by ‘ripping it to shreds’

Nasa’s most recent illustration of a black hole surrounded by an ‘accretion disc’ of gas, dust and other material (Image: Nasa)

A Nasa satellite has detected a black hole feasting on an unfortunate star.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) watched as the monster ate its victim after ‘ripping it to shreds’.

This monstrous mukbang took place 375 million light-years away in the constellation Volans, when the supermassive black hole at its centre began to munch on a star which is roughly the same size as our sun.

When a star gets too close to a hole, it is either swallowed up or ‘torn apart into a long, spaghetti-like strand’ – a process called spaghettification.

This causes a ‘tidal disruption event’ – a flare of electromagnetic radiation observable to humanity’s telescopes.

These events are very rare and only take place once every 1,000 years in a galaxy like the Milky Way.

Nasa’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) (PA)

The latest observations are ‘the most detailed looks yet at the phenomenon’.

‘We were very lucky with this event in that the patch of the sky where TESS is continuously observing is small, and in that this happened to be one of the brightest tidal disruption events we’ve seen,’ said Patrick Vallely, a co-author of the study and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Ohio State.

‘Due to the quick dscovery and the incredible TESS data, we were able to see this event much earlier than we’ve seen others.’

Scientists have observed about 40 tidal disruption events throughout history.

The events are rare because stars need to be very close to a black hole – about the distance between Earth and the Sun – in order to cause the phenomenon.

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