This illustration shows a tidal disruption, which occurs when a passing star gets too close to a black hole and is torn apart into a stream of gas. Some of the gas eventually settles into a structure around the black hole called an accretion disk. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Black holes are ever fascinating. The fact that something so massive could imprison matter and crush it into an infinitely small point seems totally out of this world. How could it be? And yet they exist. We have plenty of proof and at least one photo, an image made earlier this year of the supermassive black hole in the galaxy M87.
NASA’s TESS satellite’s primary mission is to hunt for extraterrestrial planets, but it proved key in helping astronomers watch a star destroyed by a black hole. NASA Goddard
Now for the first time NASA’s extraterrestrial planet hunting satellite, TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) has watched a black hole tear a star apart in what astronomers call a tidal disruption event. The star, named ASASSN-19bt, was discovered by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASA-SN). ASAS-SN is a worldwide network of 20 automated telescopes that repeatedly scans the sky looking ...