Every large galaxy, including the Milky Way, has a supermassive black hole. dab in the middle of it. In most cases, these huge objects are quite dormant, with little observable activity. But once every 10,000 years, an unsuspecting star wanders too close to the supermassive black hole and is attracted by its enormous appeal.
This rare phenomenon of tearing and consuming stars from massive black holes is called Tidal Disruption (TDE), and it's one of the most violent events in the entire universe.
So far, only a few dozen tidal disturbances have been observed and none of them looks very similar to the others. For example, when they strike a star, some supermassive black holes emit X-rays, while others emit primarily visible and ultraviolet light.
Until now, scientists have found it difficult to account for this diversity, considering all tides. It is expected that perturbation events will be determined by the same laws of physics. But a new astrophysical model finally reveals what happens when a massive black hole devours a star, Science Daily reports
The model used by researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen and the University of California, Santa Cruz, uses concepts of general relativity, magnetic fields, radiation and gas hydrodynamics to explain what astronomers can expect when observing a tidal break event.
What happens when a massive black hole devours a star? A groundbreaking study, led by theoretical astrophysicists at UC Santa Cruz and the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen, shows us a new unified model! https://t.co/4COfrgcR1Q
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And, according to UC Santa Cruz, it's all about the viewer's perspective. As seen from our planet, galaxies are randomly aligned, which means that earthbound astronomers get different insights into a tidal break event depending on the angle of their orientation.
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and a researcher at the DARK Cosmology Center at the Niels Bohr Institute, explains this difference in perception.
"It's like a veil covering part of an animal, from some angles we see a bared beast, but from other angles we see a covert beast, the beast is the same, but our perceptions are different."  In a study released this week in Astrophysical Journal Letters his team reveals that a huge black hole devours a star stellar material is too large to be picked up at once. Therefore, the black hole is "overfed" with star gas and debris that accumulate around it in an accretion disk.
The disk then heats up during the tidal break event, causing the munching black hole to shoot incredible amounts of radiation as well as relativistic rays – rays of ionized particles approaching the speed of light.
However, whether the black hole radiates X-rays or visible and UV light depends solely on the angle from which we look at it
"The spectral properties of the TDE depend mainly on the perspective of the observer with respect to the orientation of the disc, "write the authors in their work.
Study co-author Jane Lixin Dai, a theoretical astrophysicist at the DARK Cosmology Center, notes that observing the stellar material that finds its way into the black hole under such extreme conditions is a very compelling study.
Given that the large amount of radiation emitted by the black hole is easy to observe, it can help us. "understand the physics and calculate the properties of the black hole," says Dai.
"This makes it extremely interesting to hunt for tidal break events."
The team is planning a series of tests over the next few years, in which their style I am used to observe an estimated 100,000,000 tidal disturbance events. These observations are intended to deepen our understanding of black holes and their unknown properties.
What happens when a massive black hole devours a star? https://t.co/V3PSCN3U5Z pic.twitter.com/DSlFOMSVHW
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This work is considered one of the most important Given the recent discovery of tidal turmoil, Ramirez-Ruiz
notes, "Only in the last decade has we been able to distinguish TDEs from other galactic phenomena, and Dr. Dai's model will provide us with the framework to understand these rare events. "