In what seems to be a lucky incident, astronomers at NASA have filmed a Black Hole ripping a star to shreds. This historic footage was taken by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite or TESS. The “cataclysmic phenomenon” happened some 375 million light-years away.
The incredible phenomenon also called Tidal Disruption Event or TDE is very rare and occurs once every 10,000 to 1,00,000 years. This TDE was first discovered on Jan 29th by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae telescope network, a worldwide network of 24 robotic telescopes headquartered at Ohio State University.
This recording is even more special as the scientists were able to spot the TDE event before it peaked, something that has been accomplished only a handful of times. Follow-up observations by NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and other facilities have produced the most detailed look yet at the early moments of one of these star-destroying occurrences.
The scientists could only observe as a Supermassive Black Hole stripped the sun sized star of its outer layers and then ripped apart it’s core, engulfing it into its dark belly where the gravity is so strong that even light couldn’t escape it.
The event, dubbed ASASSN-19bt was spotted by TESS by pure accident. TESS happened to be looking at the same sector of Interstellar space where the TDE happened. Later, the other observatories mentioned were called into action to observe the TDE with all their might.
The Scale of It
Astronomers think the Supermassive Black Hole that generated ASASSN-19bt weighs around 6 million times the Sun’s mass. It sits at the centre of a galaxy called 2MASX J07001137-6602251, located about 375 million light-years away. TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre.
This is a very fortunate opportunity for Astronomers around the world to study a quite rare phenomenon in such detail and hopefully unravel the mysteries of the Universe.