Supermassive Black Hole Shreds a Star, and You Get to Watch

Imagine a star (like our sun) wandering close to a supermassive black hole and finding itself mercilessly ripped apart by this beast weighing millions to billions times more than the hapless star. It doesn’t happen very often. But when it happens, it’s pretty spectacular. And now NASA has produced a computer simulation showing this spectacle, drawing on evidence gathered by NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope located in Hawaii. Here’s how NASA describes what you’re seeing in the clip above:

Some of the stellar debris falls into the black hole and some of it is ejected into space at high speeds. The areas in white are regions of highest density, with progressively redder colors corresponding to lower-density regions. The blue dot pinpoints the black hole’s location. The elapsed time corresponds to the amount of time it takes for a Sun-like star to be ripped apart by a black hole a million times more massive than the Sun.

NASA has more information on this stellar homicide here, and you can find more astronomy wonders in our collection of Great Science Videos.



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  1. Jamie says . . . | May 3, 2012 / 7:29 am

    Think the title of this post should probably hint that this is a computer simulation… ;P

  2. s-infotech.com says . . . | May 7, 2012 / 12:49 am

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  3. Isis2012 says . . . | August 6, 2012 / 4:13 am

    I consider this to be a superior advance technology at work on the inside of a hollow and mechanically operating Black Sphere referred to as a Novice Sphere … and the inhaling of a made-ready ball of illuminated plasma gasses, as to fuel the inner dielectric sphere’s contained field of accelerated plasma under cold fusion  .. such an Exotic Sphere would be the very gravitation force sustaining the making of a galaxy’s multi-dimensional foundation  … a foundation where may worlds will roost their existence .. 

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