NASA creates video illustrating a black hole shredding a star

NASA creates video illustrating a black hole shredding a star



In my life, I have discovered two absolute truths, never walk over sidewalk grates and black holes are the most majestic thing known to man. An extension of the second is also an acceptance that I will never fully understand them. Attempting to understand the weight of its gravitational pull is like trying to wrap your head around the concept of eternity. NASA recently attempted to shine some light on this mysterious wonder and animated what they theorize a black hole absorbing a star would actually look like.

Scientists have gathered new findings from a trio of orbiting X-ray telescopes, allowing them to get a better grasp of the volatile gravitation pull a black hole has. They describe an event called “tidal disruptions” where a star comes too close to a black hole and the gravitational pull begins to actually tear the star apart. The stars debris starts to be flung outwards while the mass of the star gets sucked into the center of the black hole – giving the effect of an X-ray flare that can last for a few years.

The biggest contribution to scientists’ theories were the findings gathered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer, and ESA/NASA’s XMM-Newton. In November 2014, they gathered data from a tidal disruption event called ASASSN-14li, where a supermassive black hole, estimated to weigh a few million times the mass of the sun, tore a star apart. Don’t worry the galaxy where this took place, also known as PGC 043234, is about 290 million light years from Earth.

Jelle Kaastra, of the Institute for Space Research in the Netherlands, co-authored a paper published in the latest issue of Nature and also adds to the findings,

“The black hole tears the star apart and starts swallowing material really quickly, but that’s not the end of the story […] the black hole can’t keep up that pace so it expels some of the material outwards.”

NASA enlisted some artist renderings to help imagine their theory of what happens when a black hole shreds a star.

Source and images: NASA