Likely, in a moment of quiet downtime, you’ve wondered: Just what would happen if a star, burning bright in the sky, wandered by a black hole? What would that meeting look like? What kinds of cosmic things would go down?
Now, thanks to an artistic rendering made available by NASA, you don’t have to leave much to imagination. Above, watch a star stray a little too close to a black hole and get shredded apart by “tidal disruptions,” causing some stellar debris to get “flung outward at high speed while the rest falls toward the black hole.”
This rendering isn’t theoretical. It’s based on observations gleaned from “an optical search by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) in November 2014.” The “tidal disruptions” witnessed above, writes NASA, “occurred near a supermassive black hole estimated to weigh a few million times the mass of the sun in the center of PGC 043234, a galaxy that lies about 290 million light-years away.” It’s a sight to behold.
If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newsletter, please find it here.
If you would like to support the mission of Open Culture, consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere. You can contribute through PayPal, Patreon, and Venmo (@openculture). Thanks!