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Astronomers captured rare images of a black hole shredding a star into spaghetti-like strands and devouring it
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Astronomers captured rare images of a black hole shredding a star into spaghetti-like strands and devouring it

Astronomers at the European Southern Observatory observed a black hole sucking in a faraway star, shredding it into thin strands of stellar material.

Science & Tech

Astronomers have captured a rarely-seen event: a flare of light caused by a black hole devouring a nearby star like spaghetti.

Observed in the Eridanus constellation, about 215 million light-years away from Earth, the star's destruction is the closest such event astronomers have ever observed.

"When an unlucky star wanders too close to a supermassive black hole in the center of a galaxy, the extreme gravitational pull of the black hole shreds the star into thin streams of material," study author Thomas Wevers, a fellow at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile, said in a press release about the discovery.

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This process is called a tidal disruption event – or, more colloquially, "spaghettification," a nod to the long, thin strands a star becomes as the black hole's gravity stretches it thinner and thinner.