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When a Lucky Star Meets a Black Hole
Posted by Guy Pirro on 10/24/2014 1:04 PM
Astronomers have gotten the closest look yet at what happens when a black hole takes a bite out of a star -- and the star lives to tell the tale. We may think of black holes as swallowing entire stars that wander too close to their immense gravity. But sometimes, a star that is almost captured by a black hole gets away with only a portion of its mass torn off. This particular lucky star first flared to brightness on January 25, 2014. It appeared near the back left foot of Ursa Major, between the stars Alula Borealis and Praecipua. Based on the amount of energy released during the event, the researchers calculated that a relatively small amount of stellar material -- an amount approximately equal to the mass of the planet Jupiter -- had been sucked into the black hole.
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