Photo credit: Mail Online
Astronomers at NASA have spotted a black hole in the process of shredding a star 290-million light years away. Researchers say that the event is the closest tidal disruption discovered in about a decade. “When a star wanders too close to a black hole, intense tidal forces rip the star apart. In these events, called ‘tidal disruptions,’ some of the stellar debris is flung outward at high speed while the rest falls toward the black hole. This causes a distinct X-ray flare that can last for a few years. The event occurred near a super-massive 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. Astronomers hope to find more events like ASASSN-14li to test theoretical models about how black holes affect their environments,” said the space agency. Continue reading for a video on the largest black hole discovered yet.
Black holes of stellar mass are expected to form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. After a black hole has formed, it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings. By absorbing other stars and merging with other black holes, super-massive black holes of millions of solar masses (M☉) may form. There is general consensus that super-massive black holes exist in the centers of most galaxies.