Black holes eat anything and everything in proximity, and astronomers recently got a front row seat to one chomping down on a massive star.
As NBC News reports, astronomers spent the past several months watching the black hole ASASSN-14li devour a star that is approximately the same size as our sun. Throughout the process, they saw the star swallowed “from beginning to end.” During the process, the team also detected a spurt of plasma at the event horizon just as the star crossed inside the hole.
The event occurred approximately 300 million light-years away.
"Our observations are the first to sample the light curve within 30 days of the peak,” the study’s author Sjoert van Velzen, and colleagues, noted in a statement. "It's the first time we see everything from the stellar destruction followed by the launch of a conical outflow, also called a jet, and we watched it unfold over several months.”
The star’s slow descent into the black hole was first noticed in 2014 by astronomers at Ohio State University. Once they realized what was happening, the team positioned radio, x-ray and optical telescopes to record it across a variety of spectrums. We seem to be learning a lot about black holes these days, and we know what that means — we’re one step closer to building some Stargates (amiright?).
Check out an artist’s rendering of the star being devoured by the black hole below:
(Via NBC News)