(KTLA) – One lone star got a little too close to a black hole.
A new illustration from NASA shows how a massive black hole, located about 250 million light-years from Earth, recently destroyed a star. Multiple NASA telescopes were able to observe the unlucky star being torn apart in the fifth-closest image observed catching a black hole in the act, a news release stated.
NASA released an illustration of the phenomenon, seen below.
The black hole is in the center of another galaxy.
The stunning illustration shows the process of how the black hole dismantled the star through a process formally known as a tidal disruption event, according to a news release.
NASA also shared an animation of the process. As NASA representatives explain, when a star gets too close to a black hole, it is stretched out by black hole’s intense gravity until it becomes a river of hot gas. That gas is then wrapped around the black hole and gradually pulled into orbit, creating a bright disk.
In the above graphic, NASA shows what that river may look like. From start to finish, the entire tidal disruption event can take just weeks or months.
Previously, scientists have only studied black holes surrounded by hot gas that accumulated over multiple decades, sometimes millennia, and form disks billions of miles wide.
A new study focuses on an event called AT2021ehb, which occurred in a galaxy with a central black hole that is 10 million times the mass of Earth’s sun, which is about the same difference between a bowling ball and the Titanic, a news release said.
During this phenomenon, a black hole pulled one side of a star harder than the other, resulting in the star stretching apart and transforming into a long line of hot gas, a news release said.
Scientists are trying to figure out how this happened.