A Tour of ASASSN-14li
Narrator (April Hobart, CXC): 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.