Some of the coolest things in space take place without us being able to see any of them.
More specifically, NASA was able to use the telescope to capture a black hole spinning a bypassing star into a donut-like shape before gobbling it up. Hence, the reference to donut connoisseur Homer Simpson.
Science Focus referred to this event as a “violent cosmic occurrence” and “tidal disruption.” It happens when a star gets too close to a black hole and is therefore ripped apart by: gravitational forces.”
After the star is ripped to shreds, the black hole devours it and acts a lot like Homer by passing gas “while belching out intense radiation,” Science Focus relayed.
So it was actually the ring of gas that made the donut shape in space.
The Black Hole!
“Typically, these events are hard to observe. You get maybe a few observations at the beginning of the disruption when it’s really bright. Our program is different in that it is designed to look at a few tidal events over a year to see what happens,” said co-researcher Peter Maksym of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
“We saw this early enough that we could observe it at these very intense black hole accretion stages. We saw the accretion rate drop as it turned to a trickle over time.”
Just like any study of this kind, the hope is that astronomers can learn more about the lifecycle of black holes via Homer-gate.
“We really are still getting our heads around the event. You shred the star and then it’s got this material that’s making its way into the black hole,” said Maksym.