Astronomers report seeing supermassive black hole swallowing star


Amina Khan
Los Angeles Times
August 27, 2011

For the first time, astronomers say they’ve borne witness to a supermassive black hole consuming a star.

Two papers released Wednesday by the journal Nature describe powerful blasts of radiation whose brightness and behavior can be explained only by a sun-sized star being torn apart by the gravitational forces of a black hole at the center of its galaxy, the authors say.

Scientists believe they have seen the aftermath of such stellar violence before, in the form of fading glows emanating from distant galaxies, in whose centers supermassive black holes usually reside. But they had never caught one in the act.

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