Black hole pair shreds star

Artist's concept of merging black holes [Credit: NASA]

Artist’s concept of merging black holes [Credit: NASA]

Writing about science in a way that not only conveys information accurately, but entertains and captures the imagination, can be pretty tough. The author of this article does a remarkable job of both with a topic that’s near and dear to my heart: supermassive black holes in the process of devouring a star:

In the deep forest of stars that lies at the center of galaxies, a voracious monster lives: a black hole millions or billions of times more massive than the Sun. These cosmic beasts are more ambush predators than hunters, though: they only feed on hapless stars and other objects that get too close. Otherwise, they are content to sit quietly if they can’t get any prey for long times.

This would make a very good opening narration for a documentary about supermassive black holes. The whole thing is worth reading.

As for the actual science, this is pretty neat stuff. I’m a member of a team that’s been hunting black hole pairs for years — I covered the topic here — and can attest to their exceeding rareness. To find one that’s also in the process of ripping apart a star is certainly newsworthy.