Watch: NASA Video Shows What Happens When a Star Is Sucked Into a Black Hole

Thursday, 22 October 2015 - 10:57AM
Space
Astrophysics
Black Holes
Thursday, 22 October 2015 - 10:57AM
Watch: NASA Video Shows What Happens When a Star Is Sucked Into a Black Hole
NASA just discovered the exact mechanism by which a star is swallowed and consumed by a black hole, and they have a beautiful, slightly disturbing animation to prove it:



Opening quote
"This artist's rendering illustrates new findings about a star shredded by a black hole," NASA said in a statement. "When a star wanders too close to a black hole, intense tidal forces rip the star apart. In these events, called 'tidal disruptions,' some of the stellar debris is flung outward at high speed while the rest falls toward the black hole. This causes a distinct X-ray flare that can last for a few years."
Closing quote

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory Swift Gamma-ray Burst Explorer, and ESA/NASA's XMM-Newton collected different pieces of data that illuminated the tidal disruption event dubbed ASASSN-14li, in which a star was sucked into a supermassive black hole which weighs several trillion times the mass of the sun. The tidal forces within the black hole tear the star apart, and the gravitational force pulls the remains towards the event horizon.

What happens when a star is swallowed by a black hole

But after the material is pulled in, it isn't simply destroyed or "spaghettified"; most of the star's mass falls towards the center of the black hole in the form of gaseous filaments, which are heated to millions of degrees and release X-rays. Eventually, these filmants merge into a smooth, hot disk which glows from X-ray emissions. The central region becomes hotter than the rest of the disk, causing a flow of material, or a "wind,' away from the disk.

Opening quote
"The black hole tears the star apart and starts swallowing material really quickly, but that's not the end of the story," said co-author Jelle Kaastra of the Institute for Space Research. "The black hole can't keep up that pace so it expels some of the material outwards."
Closing quote


What happens when a star is swallowed by a black hole
Science
NASA
Space
Astrophysics
Black Holes

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