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ASASSN-14li Animations
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Tour of ASASSN-14li
Quicktime MPEG With closed-captions (at YouTube)

When something, like a star or a planet, wanders too close to a black hole, it's usually not good news for that object. The gravitational forces of the black hole can tear apart the star or planet, creating a debris field, much of which will ultimately circle toward the black hole and pass beyond its point of no return. Astronomers call these events "tidal disruptions".

In recent years, astronomers have found evidence for multiple different cases for tidal disruption around various black holes. A newly discovered tidal disruption, however, is providing scientists with new details about exactly what happens when a black hole rips apart a star. This event, called ASASSN-14li, occurred in a galaxy about 290 million light years from Earth. This makes this the closest tidal disruption to Earth in a decade.
[Runtime: 01:02]

(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)



 
Massive Black Hole Shreds Passing Star


A star approaching too close to a massive black hole is torn apart by tidal forces, as shown in this artist's rendering. Filaments containing much of the star's mass falls toward the black hole. Eventually these gaseous filaments merge into a smooth, hot disk glowing brightly in X-rays. As the disk forms, its central region heats up tremendously, which drives a flow of material, called a wind, away from the disk.

(Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab)



Return to ASASSN-14li (October 21, 2015)