June 13, 2024

Balkan Travellers

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Illustration of a star being

Scientists have discovered the closest a star-shredding black hole has ever come to Earth

An illustration of a star being ‘enhanced’ by a supermassive black hole. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Long ago, in a galaxy not too far away, a supermassive black hole tore a star to pieces in the center of galaxy NGC 7392. A flash of light from a black hole dinner finally reached Earth in 2014 — and astronomers have just discovered it in their data.

This newly discovered explosion from the center of NGC 7392 is the closest example of a tidal perturbation event (TDE), in which a star is pulled away by the intense gravity of a black hole. The results were published on April 28 in Astrophysical Journal Letters. (Opens in a new tab)