Hubble telescope observes a hungry supermassive black hole devouring a star


This sequence of artist illustrations shows how a black hole can devour a bypassing star. | Image: NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI)

While some stars reach the end of their lives with a bang, exploding in an enormous supernova, others end in a whimper, puffing up and throwing off material before shrinking and cooling to a small core. But very rarely, some stars suffer a more drastic fate as they are ripped apart and devoured by a hungry black hole.

Such an event happens only a few times every 100,000 years in a galaxy with a dormant black hole at its center, but recently, one such event was caught by the Hubble Space Telescope. Researchers observed the final few moments of the life of a star that wandered too close to a black hole nearly 300 million light-years away and was devoured, sending out a burst of light in an event named AT2022dsb.

“Black holes are very messy…

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