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Black Hole Eats Star: Researchers Detail Astounding Cosmic Occurrence (VIDEO)

Black Hole Eats Star

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 08/25/11 09:34 PM ET Updated: 10/25/11 06:12 AM ET

Prepare to have your mind blown.

Back in March, when NASA's Swift spacecraft first detected what scientists believed to be a black hole eating a star 3.8 billion light years from earth, many didn't quite know what it would mean. But now it seems the cosmic event not only sent a beam of X-rays shooting towards earth, but it also rejuvenated the black hole.

NASA has put together a short video imagining the event, which you can see for yourself, below.

"Incredibly, this source is still producing X-rays and may remain bright enough for Swift to observe into next year," said David Burrows, professor of astronomy at Penn State University and lead scientist for the mission's X-Ray Telescope instrument, told NASA. "It behaves unlike anything we've seen before."

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center explains why matter and X-rays are shooting out of the black hole:

As a star falls toward a black hole, it is ripped apart by intense tides. The gas is corralled into a disk that swirls around the black hole and becomes rapidly heated to temperatures of millions of degrees.

The black hole itself is enormous, potentially four times the size of the one at the center of the Milky Way, according to NASA. Even more incredibly, the massive hole seems to be shooting matter out of its center at 80 to 90 percent of the speed of light.

An event like this has never before been seen by scientists.

Earlier this year, NASA reported that the Swift telescope had detected dual black holes, that is, a supermassive blackhole at the center of a galaxy located extremely close to another galaxy with a blackhole at its center--a rarely observed occurrence.

At the 2011 Ted conference, Janna Levin, a professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College, spoke to The Huffington Post about the "sound" of a black hole. Though black holes can't be seen directly, Levin likened their resonance to "someone knocking on the door, or mallets banging on a drum."

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