An illustration of a hapless star being

Black hole ‘spaghettiated’ a star into a donut shape, and astronomers captured the bloody encounter

The Hubble Space Telescope spotted a star stripped and stretched into a donut shape as a black hole devours it.

The supermassive black holelocated 300 million light-years from Earth in the core of galaxy ESO 583-G004, it grabbed and crushed the star after it wandered too close, sending out a powerful beam of ultraviolet light that astronomers used to locate the encounter violence.

When a black hole feeds, its immense gravity exerts powerful tidal forces on the hapless star. As the star is tilted closer and closer to the mouth of the black hole, the gravity affecting the regions of the star closer to the black hole is much stronger than that acting on the far side of the star. This difference “spaghettiizes” the star into a long, noodle-like string that wraps tightly around the black hole layer by layer—like spaghetti around a fork.

This sequence of artist illustrations shows how a black hole can devour an orbiting star. 1. A normal star passes by a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy. 2. The outer gas of the star is drawn into the gravitational field of the black hole. 3. The star is shredded as tidal forces tear it apart. 4. The stellar remnants are pulled into a donut-shaped ring around the black hole and will eventually fall into the black hole, unleashing a tremendous amount of light and high-energy radiation. (Image credit: NASA, ESA, Leah Hustak (STScI))

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