After getting the world psyched about a potentially catastrophic (but probably totally fine) asteroid set to approach Earth at "unusually high" speeds on Halloween, NASA has offered up yet another treat for stargazers. The Goddard Space Center just posted a mind-blowing and beautiful artist's rendition of a black hole shredding the hell out of a passing star.
The video, released Wednesday, is based on new details about the destructive capabilities of a black hole, discovered by three orbiting x-ray telescopes: NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer, and ESA/NASA’s XMM-Newton. As NASA explains, the telescopes witnessed an event called "tidal disruption" near a supermassive black hole estimated to weigh a few million times the mass of the sun, in a galaxy about 290 million light years from Earth.
"When a star comes too close to a black hole, the intense gravity of the black hole results in tidal forces that can rip the star apart. In these events, called 'tidal disruptions,' some of the stellar debris is flung outward at high speeds, while the rest falls toward the black hole. This causes a distinct X-ray flare that can last for a few years."
NASA says that astronomers are hoping to find more events like this so they can test out more theoretical models about what black holes do to their environments and any unlucky objects that wander too close.