Black hole chews up star

Earlier this year astronomers spied a burst of high-energy gamma rays emanating from the center of a dwarf galaxy 3.8 billion light-years away. The odd flash, dubbed Sw 1644+57, is one is the brightest and longest gamma ray bursts (GRBs) yet seen.

In visible light and infrared wavelengths, the burst was as bright as a hundred billion suns. It is believed the explosive event was caused by a supermassive black hole ten million times the mass of the sun shredding a star that got too close to its gravitational pull.

The mass of the star fell into the black hole, but along the way it heated up and produced a burst of energy in the form of a powerful jet of radiation, which we were able to detect through space-based observatories. Learn more here.


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