Black holes are hungry, and apparently don’t care for good manners.
An international team of astronomers has witnessed a massive black hole swallowing a whole star, and then ‘burping’ a jet of matter into space.
The thermal energy of these speedy billows is thought to be equal to the energy our sun would produce over ten million years.
The black hole lies in the centre of galaxy PGC 43234 -300 million light-years away from Earth.
It has a mass of about one million times the sun, but is actually a lightweight member of the super-massive black holes’ family.
Even so, its gravitational tide was strong enough to suck in the doomed star, whose size was similar to the sun’s.
Scientists had long theorised that when a black hole swallows a star – or any huge quantity of gas – it would let out a fast-moving stream of plasma from its opening, also called ‘event horizon.’
Until now, though, the assumption had never been confirmed by direct observation.
This was also made more difficult by the fact that black holes do not devour stars very often.
The rare few cases previously noticed had also occurred in galaxies much farther away than PGC 43234, making observation harder.