From the February 2010 issue

If our galaxy’s central supermassive black hole devoured a star, what effects or phenomena would be visible to observers on Earth? How likely is this sort of event to happen within a few human lifetimes?

Ron Pridgen, Liberty, Missouri
By | Published: February 22, 2010 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Milky Way's Center in Mid-Infrared
Near the center of the image is a black hole three million times heavier than our Sun. Its gravitational pull affects the motion of dust, gas, and stars throughout the region.

Unless the number of stars near the galactic center is extremely high, that is not likely to occur more than once every thousand years, and probably less often.

We probably wouldn’t see anything with our eyes. However, it is likely that in other, less obstructed wave bands — such as infrared and X-ray — we would see a dramatic brightening.