Technology

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

epa07870000 An undated handout photo made available by NASA shows a NASA visualization simulating the appearance of a black hole where infalling matter has collected into a thin, hot structure called an accretion disk (issued 26 September 2019). Seen nearly edgewise, the turbulent disk of gas churning around a black hole takes on a crazy double-humped appearance, NASA said. The black hole's extreme gravity alters the paths of light coming from different parts of the disk, producing the warped image. The black hole's extreme gravitational field redirects and distorts light coming from different parts of the disk, but exactly what we see depends on our viewing angle. The greatest distortion occurs when viewing the system nearly edgewise. EPA/NASA'S GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER/JEREMY SCHNITTMAN HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

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.

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EMBARGOED TO 1600 MONDAY JULY 29 Undated handout illustration issued by NASA of its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Scientists say they have discovered three new planets outside our solar system which orbit a star situated 73 light years away from Earth. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 29, 2019. The trio are among the smallest and nearest exoplanets known to date, using Nasa??s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which was sent into space in 2018 with the aim of finding new worlds around neighbouring stars that could support life. See PA story SCIENCE Planets. Photo credit should read: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

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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