Located almost 150 million light years away from Earth, scientists theorise the star swirled around the black hole, emitting intense x-rays and visible light, as a jet of material spat out at a quarter of the speed of light.
Researchers believed that black holes eat stars fairly regularly, but previously had not witnessed the act.
Supermassive black holes that are millions to billions times the mass of the sun are thought to lurk in the hearts of most, if not all, large galaxies.
Scientists have managed to observe a supermassive black hole eating a star for the vert first time.
Scientists observed as the black hole destroyed a star using multiple radio-telescope antennas, separated by thousands of miles, to gain the resolving power required to detect the expansion of an object so distant. Some of the material gets to be blasted out in a spectacular jet - and now, for the first time, we have direct images of one of those jets forming and expanding. Part of the reason they stay hidden is because, like what happened in Arp 299 here, much of the visible light was absorbed in the stellar dust, forcing the team to use radio and infrared to monitor the eruption as it happened.
"By looking for these events with infrared and radio telescopes, we may be able to discover many more (jet streams), and learn from them", Mattila said.
Known as a tidal disruption event, this extremely violent occurrence was observed only a few times and has been showed to produce powerful emissions of X-rays and visible, infrared and ultraviolet light in computer simulations, the Inquisitr previously reported. The star that fell victim to the supermassive black hole had more than twice the mass of our Sun.
This dramatic event took place in a pair of colliding galaxies, named Arp 299, located some 150 million light-years from Earth.
Dr Rob Beswick, from the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester's School of Physics and Astronomy, UK, said: "This is a fantastic discovery and an extremely important result in astronomy". It was speculated that while the black hole tears the star apart, the material from the star creates a rotating disk surrounding the black hole, at the same time emitting strong X-rays and light. The observation will help astronomers understand these events, as well as the environments in which galaxies developed.
Though it has always been theorized that stellar death-encounters, commonly known as tidal disruption events or TDEs, are common in the universe, only a few of them have been detected. This new object originally was considered to be a supernova explosion.
More information: S. Mattila el al., "A dust-enshrouded tidal disruption event with a resolved radio jet in a galaxy merger", Science (2018). science.sciencemag.org/lookup/ ...
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