Image: Black hole tearing apart a star.
This computer-simulated image from NASA recreates an actual event studied with help from NASA’s orbiting Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on the summit of Haleakala in Hawaii. It took place about 2.7 billion light years from Earth in a galaxy known as PS1-10jh.
A flare in ultraviolet and optical light revealed gas falling into the black hole as well as helium-rich gas that was expelled from the system. When the star is torn apart, some of the material falls into the black hole, while the rest is ejected at high speeds. The flare and its properties provide a signature of this scenario and give unprecedented details about the stellar victim.