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I’ll Have Spaghetti with Those Meatballs

Posted by Guy Pirro 10/16/2020 06:05AM

I’ll Have Spaghetti with Those Meatballs

Spaghettification is the vertical stretching and horizontal compression of objects into long thin shapes (rather like spaghetti) in a very strong gravitational field near black holes. The stretching is so powerful that no object can withstand its pull. It is theorized that the horizontal compression balances the vertical stretching so that object being “spaghettified” experiences no net change in volume. Astronomers have captured the last moments of a star just before it was ripped apart and spaghettified by a black hole. The violent occurrence, called a tidal disruption event, created a blast of light seen just 215 million light years from Earth -- the closest such flare recorded to date. To get a detailed look at just what happens when a star is devoured by a monstrous black hole, researchers pointed the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Very Large Telescope (VLT) and New Technology Telescope (NTT) at the new flash of light that occurred close to a supermassive black hole last year. Follow-up observations occurred over a six month period at multiple telescopes around the world, including the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) Harvard and Smithsonian's Multiple Mirror Telescope (MMT), located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.


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