Space can be fascinating because it’s so vast and we still have a lot of it that has yet to be discovered and fully understood. This is why we can totally understand the excitement behind a recent discovery in which for the first time ever, NASA has managed to capture a rare cosmic event with one of their newer telescopes.
The cosmic event in question is a black hole where they have observed it ripping apart a star, roughly the size of our sun, and swallowing it whole. This is also known as a tidal disruption event and like we said, this is the first time that NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite managed to capture the detailed timeline from the beginning to the very end.
While we can’t tell what it actually looks like in real-life, they have put together an animation/simulation that gives us a rough idea of what it could look like if we observed it ourselves, and we have to say that it is pretty crazy! According to Chris Kochanek, a professor of astronomy at Ohio State, “This was really a combination of both being good and being lucky, and sometimes that’s what you need to push the science forward.”
The reason why luck is needed because in order for a tidal disruption event to occur, stars need to be very close to a black hole. Scientists have estimated that this kind of event only happens once every 10,000 to 100,000 years. According to Kochanek, “Imagine that you are standing on top of a skyscraper downtown, and you drop a marble off the top, and you are trying to get it to go down a hole in a manhole cover. It’s harder than that.”