FOR THE FIRST TIME a gigantic black hole has been captured sucking in and splitting apart a star.
The star was the size of the Earth’s sun and 375 million light years away when it was seen being drawn in by the black hole.
Stars get sucked in when they venture too close to a supermassive black hole, which lives at the centre of most galaxies, including the Earth’s Milky Way.
The occurrence has been been captured by NASA’s planet-searching telescope, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite – TESS – the detailed event, from start to end has been monitored for the first time and recorded by researchers in the Astorphysical Journal.
This rare cosmic occurrence, of a star being sucked into oblivion, is known by astronomers as a tidal disruption event. Astronomers used a worldwide network of telescopes to detect the phenomenon before looking at TESS, whose caught the beginning of the violent event.
Thomas Holoien, an astronomer for the Carnegie Institution for Science who led the research, said: “This was really a combination of both being good and being lucky, and sometimes that’s what you need to push the science forward.”