This might be one of the most violent acts in the universe… but it sure is fun to watch. A new animation from NASA shows what happens to a star when it gets too close to a black hole.
It doesn’t end well for the star.
The extreme gravity of the black hole causes intense tidal forces to tug at the star and tear it apart. Most of it gets sucked into the black hole, but some of it gets flung outward into space at high speeds. This results in an X-ray flare that can be seen for years.
The study was based on observations of a tidal disruption event called ASASSN-14li, which was first spotted in November 2014 and is taking place about 290 million light years away.
Over the summer, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking said something sucked inside a black hole may not be gone forever after all, but instead may come out in an alternate universe. So you might have that to look forward to at least.