2/ If you've ever wondered what happens to a star that gets too close to a gigantic black hole: It doesn't just fall in, BLOOP, and is gone.

Instead, *it gets torn apart*, material ripped off of it like a dandelion in a hurricane.
3/ The matter pulled off forms a long thin stream — the star gets spaghettified — which whips around the black hole in a loop and can impact itself. Some falls to the black hole and forms an infernally hot disk. Both events create a *lot* of light.
4/ We've seen this happen many times, usually in galaxies a long way off. But in 2019 light reached Earth from such an event that was "only" 215 million light years away. For galactic astronomers that's close! Even better, they caught it early, while it was still brightening.
5/ That's important, since that gave astronomers a chance to see what happens in the early stages. It took nearly a month to peak, and when it did it was emitting TEN BILLION TIMES AS MUCH ENERGY as the Sun.

So, yikes. That's as much energy as a whole (if small) galaxy!
6/ The black hole itself is about a million times the mass of the Sun, and the star got about 70 million km away before getting taffyfied. That's closer than the Earth is to the Sun. Mind you, we consider this a small example of a supermassive black hole! Some are way bigger.
7/ This enormous explosion of energy was observed by a bunch of different observatories across the electromagnetic spectrum, too, so I expect this will be an iconic example for future studies.
8/ By the way, because astronomers suck at naming things, this ridiculously violent and cataclysmic explosion that results in the possible destruction of an entire star is called a "tidal disruption event". <yawn>
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