NASA Planet Hunter Spots Monster Black Hole Devouring Star

NASA has spotted another black hole doing something scary in space. A supermassive black hole in a galaxy 375 million light years away was devouring a star and literally “shredding” it with its strong gravitational forces. 

The space agency found the rare event using its Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). NASA said what happened to the black hole and star, also called ASASSN-19bt, was a tidal disruption event (TDE).

During TDE, strong gravity around the black hole rips gas from a nearby star until it turns into a bright disk. The left materials would then fall into the black hole.

“TESS data let us see exactly when this destructive event, named ASASSN-19bt, started to get brighter, which we’ve never been able to do before,” Thomas Holoien, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., said in a statement. "Only a handful of TDEs have been discovered before they reached peak brightness, and this one was found just a few days after it started to brighten." 

Holoien and colleagues said ASASSN-19bt offers new information that could expand their understanding of what would happen to a star that moved closer to a black hole. Their findings were published in the Astrophysical Journal.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from TESS space telescope that first detected ASASSN-19bt in early 2019. They observed the star's destruction every half-hour for months, which reached peak brightness in March, reported Thursday.

"Having so much data about ASASSN-19bt will allow us to improve our understanding of the physics at work when a star is unlucky enough to meet a black hole," Decker French, one of the researchers and an astronomer at Carnegie, said. 

Astronomers made a series of discoveries about black holes this year, which started with the first-ever image of the mysterious object. A separate study previously found the existence of “dramatic” black holes in six galaxies that offer new information on galactic evolution, Fox News reported Thursday

Another research team spotted also a black hole eating a neutron star. This can be the first time that astronomers observed such an event. 

Black Hole Researchers using NASA's TESS space telescope discovered a supermassive black hole devouring and literally “shredding” a star in a galaxy 375 million light years away. Pixabay