Most of the stars in our universe die from natural causes: exploding its outer layers, by means of an explosion that ends in the form of a supernova or simply cooling due to lack of fuel.
However, stars that live in the inner zone of your galaxy may not be so lucky. The supermassive black hole that lives at the heart of most galaxies could pull on them so much that it ends up ripping them apart. Astronomers call this process “spaghetti” (although its proper name is tidal interruption event). However, despite knowing about its existence, this is the first time we have been able to observe this event.
A team of astronomers, including lead researcher Giacomo Cannizzaro and Peter Jonker from the Netherlands SRON Space Research Institute / Radboud University, has observed spectral absorption lines caused by strands of a spaghetti star.
And we had never seen the actual material ligaments, as in a physical object that not only emits light but also blocks. These spectral absorption lines have been contemplated while observing one of the poles of a black hole; specifically AT 2019dsg
It was already evident that black holes may have a disk of accretion material around their equator, but absorption lines on the pole of a black hole suggest that there is a long strand wrapped many times around the black hole, like a ball of thread: the actual material of a freshly torn star.
The accretion disk is the only part of a black hole system that emits X-ray radiation that astronomers can measure. If you looked straight ahead, you wouldn’t see the X-rays of the accretion disk.
“In addition, the absorption lines are narrow,” says Giacomo Cannizzaro (SRON / Radboud University), leader of the work that publishes the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. “They don’t magnify with the Doppler effect, as you would expect when looking at a spinning disk.”