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Astronomers witness 'spaghettification' of star shredded by a black hole

October 12, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

This illustration depicts a star (in the foreground) experiencing spaghettification as it???s sucked in by a supermassive black hole (in the background) during a ???tidal disruption event???. In a new study, done with the help of ESO???s Very Large Telescope and ESO???s New Technology Telescope, a team of astronomers found that when a black hole devours a star, it can launch a powerful blast of material outwards.

A star experience "spaghettification" as a black hole shredded it into thin strips 215 million light-years away and astronomers used multiple telescopes to watch the event.

(CNN)A black hole enjoyed one stellar spaghetti dinner and astronomers were able to witness the event from 215 million light-years away in a spiral galaxy in the Eridanus constellation.

Astronomers saw the light from a star being devoured and ripped apart by a supermassive black hole using telescopes at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.

"When an unlucky star wanders too close to a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy, the extreme gravitational pull of the black hole shreds the star into thin streams of material," said Thomas Wevers, study coauthor and an ESO fellow in Santiago, Chile, in a statement.

When these thin strands of the star's material fall into the black hole, they release a bright energetic flare that can be detected by astronomers.

Although the light from the star was incredibly bright, it was still difficult for the astronomers to study because dust and debris created by the event helped to obscure it from view.

"We found that, when a black hole devours a star, it can launch a powerful blast of material outwards that obstructs our view," said Samantha Oates, study coauthor and researcher at the University of Birmingham, in a statement.

Astronomers began observing the event shortly after the star was ripped apart and continued to use different telescopes and instruments to study it in detail over six months as the light from the star initially grew and then faded.

"Because we caught it early, we could actually see the curtain of dust and debris being drawn up as the black hole launched a powerful outflow of material with velocities up to 10,000 km/s," said Kate Alexander, study coauthor and NASA Einstein fellow at Northwestern University, in a statement.

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