Watch a Massive Black Hole Snack on a Planet

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Over 47 million light years away, in a galaxy called NGC 4845, there's one hungry black hole. In fact, scientists have watched in awe as, soon after it stirred from dormancy, it chomped away at a planet 30 times the mass of Jupiter.

This video, by the European Space Agency, shows how the — entirely unexpected — event happened. From studying data from the ESA's INTEGRAL satellite, astrophysicists were able to spot the black hole devouring parts of the planet, adding to its already impressive mass, which is some 300,000 times that of our own Sun. The ESA explains:

It also likes to play with its food: the way the emission brightened and decayed shows there was a delay of 2-3 months between the object being disrupted and the heating of the debris in the vicinity of the black hole... We estimate that only its external layers were eaten by the black hole, amounting to about 10 per cent of the object's total mass, and that a denser core has been left orbiting the black hole.

Clearly it wants to save pudding for later. [ESA via Geekosystem]