Astronomers have watched the growth of a jet fueled by a shredded star.
Unlucky stars serve as brilliant but short-lived snacks when they wander too close to supermassive black holes. But one such black hole is still gnawing on its stellar meal after a decade.
Every now and then, the Milky Way’s central, supermassive black hole tears apart a star and flings away some of its innards. Now astronomers think they know how to spot these cosmic spitballs.
The Zwicky Transient Facility has taken its first image, covering an area equivalent to 247 full Moons in a single shot. This beginning is part of an ongoing sea change in astronomy.