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This computer-simulated image shows gas from a tidally shredded star falling into a black hole. Some of the gas also is being ejected at high speeds into space. Astronomers observed the flare in ultraviolet light using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, and in optical light using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Mount Haleakala, Hawaii. The light comes from gas falling into the black hole, and glowing helium from the star's helium-rich gas expelled from the system.
The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena leads the Galaxy Evolution Explorer mission and is responsible for science operations and data analysis. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also in Pasadena, manages the mission and built the science instrument. The mission was developed under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Researchers sponsored by Yonsei University in South Korea and the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in France collaborated on this mission.