Four years ago, scientists witnessed a star being ripped into shreds by a black hole 650 million light years away, because it got too close. That is par for the course for black holes but recently, it spat out the remains of the star at close to half the speed of light.
This unprecedented event took scientists by surprise, who were unsure why the outflow had been delayed by several years. The phenomenon is contradictory to what we know of the feeding behaviour of black holes, which is likened to burping after a meal.
When a star comes too close to a black hole, gravitational forces will stretch out the star beyond its limits. Then the elongated material spirals around the black hole, gets heated up and can be detected by us millions of light years away. Black holes are usually messy eaters and belch out the remnants almost immediately following the feeding, not years later.
The next step for researchers is to observe whether this happens more frequently than originally thought and what could be causing it.
Source: Indian Express