Picture of the Day

Black hole destroys star

For the first time, astronomers have directly imaged the formation and expansion of a fast-moving jet of material ejected when the powerful gravity of a supermassive black hole ripped apart a star that wandered too close to the cosmic monster. The scientists tracked the event with radio and infrared telescopes, including the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array, in a pair of colliding galaxies called Arp 299, nearly 150 million light-years from Earth. At the core of one of the galaxies, a black hole 20 million times more massive than the sun shredded a star more than twice the sun's mass, setting off a chain of events that revealed important details of the violent encounter.

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