Holy Smokes: Video Of A Black Hole Swallowing A Star

May 8, 2012


This is a computer model of a supermassive black hole 2.7-billion light years away sucking the gas off a red giant, based on the recent observations of such an event by astronomers using the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii. Why they couldn't capture ACTUAL video is beyond me, but I suspect it has something to with somebody forgetting to push record.

Astronomers say supermassive black holes rip apart stars very rarely, maybe just once every 10,000 years per galaxy.

"This likely happened when the star went through the red giant phase, where it expanded to 100 times its original radius," Gezari said. "When it puffed up like that, it became vulnerable to the gravitational tidal forces of the black hole, and it would have been very easy to strip off the tenuous hydrogen envelope.

"However, the star then had to approach much closer, 100 times closer in, before it was completely disrupted by the black hole. We think it approached all the way in to one-third of an astronomical unit, similar to the orbit of Mercury [about one-third the distance between the Earth and sun]. We then saw the helium gas streaming into the black hole."

Not to brag or anything, but I've swallowed stars before. I've also been known to eat my fair share of crescent moons. "Lucky Charms marshmallows don't count." THE HELL THEY DON'T.

Hit the jump for the NOTE TO SELF: never fly close to black hole just to dump your spaceship's waste tanks.

Thanks to Dave and Cy, who thought black holes were exit holes. Hoho, well think again!

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